County May Purchase Uninhabitable Homes in Ft. Washington

Prince George's County officials are hoping to shore up enough money to buy up six uninhabitable homes in a neighborhood heavily damaged by a slope failure two months ago.

A slope along Fort Washington's Piscataway Hills neighborhood collapsed during a landslide in May, causing the evacuation of 28 residences. 

During a meeting Wednesday night, county officials said they have a new plan -- one that would require nearly all the homeowners to move out for up to six months while crews reinforce the slope.

The county plans to use two firms, average an appraisal, and make offers on the six uninhabitable homes.

"If you're going to buy our house, pay us fairly for it," Cherie Cullen said. "We bought this house in 2008, thinking we'd live life here. My husband and I had just gotten married, we were going to raise our kids here and one day have grandkids in it."

Residents of the other 22 homes are not keen on keeping their homes due to decreased value.

"We wanted to move south where my daughter is, and suddenly we've hit this. We'll never be able to sell at this point. It's crushed us," resident Jodie Battersby said.

According to Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker, the county can only spend $11 million on private land. The current plan for Piscataway Hills will cost $15 million, meaning the county will need to get that money from the state.

"We need it immediately," Baker said. "This can't be something where the governor says, 'Oh we'll take it to the assembly next session.' It's too late."

Many of the residents moved back to their homes several weeks ago because they were able to get above-ground lines for water, sewage and electricity. Timing is key for them because those lines won't be functional in the winter months.

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