DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Reid Porter spends another afternoon eyeballing yet another property. Porter is not looking to purchase it. He wants to purge the house from its West Dallas neighborhood.
“Especially senior citizens and children. By living next to one of these drug houses or an old abandoned property, they really feel imprisoned in their homes,” said Porter as he sized up an abandoned house in the Westmoreland Heights neighborhood.
Porter and the neighbors he represents say rundown and abandoned homes often serve as havens for drugs and prostitution.
Porter once worked as a successful Dallas attorney. But two and half years ago, he left the law firm to come to West Dallas to help residents save their neighborhood.
That’s when he met Marie Searles. Searles left West Dallas as a young woman, but returned 30 years later.
“I thought, ‘Oh my God. What happened to the neighborhood?’” asked the 57-year-old.
Searles was fed up with the unsightly, rat-infested houses that she said ruined her neighborhood. She contacted Porter’s organization, Advocates for Community Transformation or ACT.
Nearly 75 attorneys from 12 Dallas-area law firms volunteer their services to help get rid of these unsightly properties.
“It has made a tremendous difference,” said Searles. “The crime is down in this area. The eye sores are gone.”
Porter has amassed a small army of volunteer attorneys who donate legal services to help neighbors clean up or tear down decaying homes. For instance, Dallas attorney David Taylor filed a lawsuit to rid a dilapidated drug house of its unruly tenants.
“There were prostitutes coming in and out of the property,” said Taylor.
Porter and his ‘legal eagles’ have swooped down and cleaned up or demolished 15 properties in West Dallas. They plan to go after another 30 this summer.