House collapse in Central City, struggling structures plague neighborhood

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - Contractor James Higgenbotham has been rehabbing a home on Saratoga Street near Second Street for a few months now. When he came out to do work Wednesday morning, he noticed something wrong with the vacant house next door, and became fearful for the squatters living there.

“I saw the back top had collapsed, I thought they were stuck, so I called the fire department," said Higgenbotham.

No one was injured. Code enforcement officials were on the scene, they did not want to comment at this time. Higgenbotham says something must be done…

“Problems like this one and the blue one, they need to be taken down, started over. Because they have just gone too far," said Higgenbotham.

There are multiple, dilipidated, decaying homes in the neighborhood. One home has a wall that's collpased in. The roof has fallen in as well. We spoke with some neighbors and they told WGNO that an old couple lives in the home -- on the porch.

“It’s their home, it’s their property, you can’t make them give it up, that’s the way they feel. But they’re living in extreme danger and extreme poverty. Ideally, fix it, find the solution, find the money. City fix it, let them live out the rest of their lives, they’ve only got a few years left. Then the city takes it and they make their money back," said Higgenbotham.

We tried to speak with the couple, but they declined our interview request. They told WGNO they have lived in the home for 65 years and they have tried to get help, but they are tired. It’s unclear what will happen with their home and the other struggling structures.