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Abandoned homes an eyesore across from high school

HOUSTON – Dozens and dozens of abandoned homes in an Independence Heights neighborhood sit, filled with beer bottles, trash and debris. They've been there for months, decaying.

"I don't want my family to go around there," said James Livingston, who lives nearby.

But Livingston says, unfortunately for him, his son must. Livingston's son is a freshman at Booker T. Washington High School, just feet from the neighborhood of abandoned houses.

The homes, and the land on which they sit, were bought by the Houston Independent School District last year.

The purchase was part of a $1.9 billion bond measure approved by voters in 2012. Some of that money is slated to expand and rebuild Booker T. Washington High School on the land now occupied by the vacant homes. It's been more than six months since the last tenant moved out and no homes have been demolished.

"(HISD) needs to tear them down because a lot of kids are walking over there and that's dangerous," Livingston said. "It's too close to the school."

Even HISD's own police chief, Robert Mock agrees, saying the area is proving difficult to police, despite efforts to keep the homes boarded up.

"You don't know who is walking around there," Livingston said. "And there are some guys walking around that don't need to be walking around. Especially around kids. If (a criminal) wants to grab someone, they don't have to go that far. They're right there by the school."

HISD officials say the homes will be demolished by April. The new school is expected to be completed by 2017.