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Legal Eagles Swoop Down On Dallas Drug Houses

By Jay Gormley, CBS 11 News

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.


One Comment

  1. Holden McFarland says:

    These people are not as benevolent as you might think. They see houses they think are eyesores, then find neighbors willing to make up b.s. about drug use and other crimes on the property to force the property owner to demolish it or spend a small fortune fixing it up. I’m all for cleaning up neighborhoods, but the ends don’t always justify the means.

    1. JusticeforAll says:

      I’m confused as to what “means” distress you? Helping members of the neighborhood get the legal help that they thought was out of reach (due to their socioeconomic status) in order to enforce the law seems like great “means” to me. Especially if it means they can live in a safe and clean neighborhood. Or do you think that only wealthy people deserve a safe and clean neighborhood?

    2. T. Webb says:

      Ummm… have you every been to West Dallas? These are poor neighboorhoods that ACT is working in, and the danger is very real. What specific examples do you have of ACT doing the things you’re accuting them of, or are you just making a generic complaint? Please explain.

  2. bodegabayjoan says:

    Well Holden, if it’s an eyesore, it’s an eyesore.
    It needs to be fixed or bulldozed. There are quite a few wannabe slumlords operating in these areas who try to amass property wealth beyond their means, and so, obviously, cannot afford the upkeep.
    The obvious solution is sell it to someone who WILL renovate it.
    Those who collect disheveled properties they cannot afford to maintain deserve no more leeway than those who knowingly let their properties become drug dens or the like.
    Which group are you in McF????

  3. philip says:

    how do you get help e mail i would love to share my 2 year of hell with 6 house

  4. Paul says:

    Why is the CITY not handling this responsibility? Can they not (and have a duty to) condemn, foreclose and bulldoze, if necessary, abandoned properies and those that are not kept up to code by their owners? Same for properties that are a “public nuisance” in being a location for continuing criminal activity? The Dallas Police Dept. and Code Enforcement need to work together on this matter.

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