Published: Feb 24, 2011 2:40 AM EST
Updated: Feb 23, 2011 11:44 PM EST

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla.- Collier County's been flooded with foreclosure filings since 2008. So, they started up the Blight Prevention Program to make sure homes in limbo don't bring down the rest of the block. They are calling on banks to pay for the upkeep, instead of using taxpayer dollars.

The program is specific to Collier County, and was started during the height of the housing bust. Code Enforcement developed close contacts with banks handling the majority of the county's foreclosures, asking them to pay up to prevent eyesores. With more than 21,000 foreclosure filings in Collier County since 2008, they have their work cut out for them. Since the Blight Prevention Program got underway, banks and lenders have paid out more than $2 million dollars to clean up foreclosed homes.

"We contact the banks and ask them to abate the violations due to them having an interest in the property, holding a note on the property," said Jen Baker of Collier County Code Enforcement.

So far, more than 1,600 houses have been cleaned up in Collier thanks to the program. Homeowners welcome the help, saying foreclosed properties plague neighborhoods and cause property values to plummet.

"It's terrible. It brings everything down. It brings the look down. If you have buyers on the street, chances are they're going to turn around and go a different direction," Stephanie Rucker of Golden Gate said Wednesday.

With four code enforcement investigators assigned strictly to foreclosure cases, Collier County says they're working with banks to turn that around.

"We want to address that. So people want to come to Collier County, and want to buy properties in Collier County," Baker said.

You can report possible code violations in your neighborhood at www.colliergov.net/code or by calling code enforcement at 252-2440.