PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Philadelphia’s licenses and inspections commissioner, during a tour of a Germantown neighborhood, assured some frustrated homeowners that the city was dealing with ‘nuisance’ properties that bring the whole block down.

One homeowner, Thelma Gorham, who has lived on Crittenden Street, near Stenton Avenue for 40-years, complained about boarded up, water damaged vacant home next to hers.

“You know, it’s a poor neighborhood. They don’t really care because we don’t count. That’s how I feel.”

Councilwoman Donna Reed Miller says after the city clean and seals, some from the neighborhood break in, often times for illegal activity.

“We’re looking for the neighbors to be our eyes and ears.”

L & I Commissioner Fran Burns says they’re just a phone call away.

“The first thing they should do is call 3-1-1.”

L & I will send an inspector, who will write an unsafe violation notice to the owner, if the home is not in imminent danger of collapse. More serious structural damage could lead to demolition. Burns says the city brings down about 500 properties a year, but there are 40,000 vacant properties in the city.

“We need to get these private property owners to take responsibility for these things.”

Burns says the city is working to improve efforts to locate property owners, including using state legislation, to better enforce code violations.

Reported By Steve Tawa, KYW Newsradio.