Saturday, November 12, 2011

Vacant, Abandoned Foreclosed Homes Continue Killing Quality Of Life In Some Chicago Neighborhoods

In Chicago, Illinois, Chicago News Cooperative & The New York Times reports:

  • Thomas Burton remembers exactly when he closed on his West Wilcox Street home. It was Sept. 6, 1962, at 3 p.m. Eager to begin a homeowner’s life with his wife and their six children, he got off early from his shift as a driver for C&K Snacks to make the closing.

  • This was my first house,” he said. “I couldn’t forget that date.” Decades later, his children are grown and the 30-year mortgage has been paid off. But the neighborhood is a far cry from what it used to be.

  • The street has been transformed — six foreclosed and abandoned homes now sit on Mr. Burton’s block. There are 28 vacant buildings on West Wilcox, which is less than a mile long.


  • According to city data, there were nearly 15,000 abandoned buildings in Chicago as of Oct. 20, most of them a result of foreclosures. Three neighborhoods account for 20 percent of the total: Englewood, West Englewood and Austin.

  • The city lost 200,000 residents from 2000 to 2010, according to census data. In the area immediately surrounding Mr. Burton’s house, population has dropped by 26 percent. And though some residents are gone, those who remain do not necessarily want to raze the vacant buildings left behind.

  • The empty buildings are magnets for gang activity, depressing the value of nearby properties. Drug abuse violations and burglaries are the most common crimes taking place in abandoned properties, police report. In Austin, burglaries and illegal drug use make up 74 percent of the 66 incidents reported in the past three months. In Englewood, those crimes were 58 percent of the 85 reported cases of illegal activity. In West Englewood, drugs and burglaries constituted 43 percent of 78 incidents.

  • Vacant homes create so many risks to a neighborhood,” said Charles Brown, a retired Chicago police officer living in Englewood. “Murders — we’ve found people dead in them. Attempted murder, rape, all kinds of things. They catch on fire and burn up the house next door — firemen get hurt.”

For more, see Foreclosures Leave Pockets of Neglect and Decay.

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