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CLE leaders address plan to demolish abandoned homes, keep kids safe on walks to school

CLEVELAND-- Three abandoned homes on Cleveland's east side were demolished on Thursday. The city says it’s all to help protect our children.

The blighted homes that were demolished are located on East 93rd Street next to Gaylord Avenue.

The city will continue to demolish hundreds more across the area by the end of the year. Leaders said abandoned properties create significant safety concerns.

"Our children are the future," Police Chief Calvin Williams said. "We have to protect them and we want to make sure they are safe to and from school."

The homes demolished Thursday were directly across the street from Miles Park Elementary School. The city has drawn a perimeter around every K-8 School in Cleveland. They are focusing first on abandoned homes within 500 feet of those schools.

This is all part of Mayor Frank Jackson's Healthy Neighborhood Initiative. It's a program aimed at improving the quality of all neighborhoods, not just downtown.

It's possible because of the passing of Issue 32.

“With the vote, we promised that we would enhance services to the people of Cleveland," Jackson said. "Issue 32 has allowed us to do this because we are now able to carve $5 million out of the advanced budget that was passed in April and money became available.”

These homes are about a mile and a half from the abandoned home where the body of Alianna DeFreeze was found. The 14-year-old was kidnapped on her commute to school in January.

The other big part of the day was the Safe Route to School Initiative. Thursday started with Jackson meeting with the Safe Route to School volunteers who have been walking with students every day since Alianna's death.