City Ordinance Would Protect Students from Vacant Properties

October 04, 2011

Abandoned Chicago real estate is doing more to our streets than lowering property values. In some cases, the unsecured properties are making our neighborhoods unsafe, especially for children.

A new ordinance would require owners of foreclosed and vacant Chicago properties located near schools to secure those buildings or face fines.

abandoned building

The Vacant Property Safe Passage ordinance would also create jobs for security guards.

The “Vacant Property Safe Passage” ordinance will be introduced by Alderman Deborah Graham (29th Ward) at the City Council’s Housing Committee meeting on October 5.

The measure would force owners of abandoned properties located within a 1,000-yard radius of a school to hire security guards to watch over the buildings.

The goal is to not only protect students walking to school, but also to force lenders to accept responsibility for handing out the high-risk loans that led to the foreclosure crisis in the first place.

More than 10,500 homes were foreclosed upon last year in Chicago, and many of those buildings sit vacant. Some of those properties become breeding grounds for drug use and other illegal activity. Children who walk by them feel justifiably unsafe.

The ordinance would require owners of five or more buildings in the city to post a watchman at any vacant building within 1,000 yards of a public school from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The proposal also calls for full-time night guards at all vacant properties.

If ignored, the measure states that fines of up to $1,000 would be administered for each violation.

Action Now members joined the supporters of the bill, Alderman Graham and Alderman Bob Fioretti (2nd Ward), along with the Chicago Teachers’ Union and local residents at a rally on Sunday over the ordinance.

“We want the banks to be accountable, do what they are supposed to do so we can send our children to school not fearing them being attacked,” said Michelle Young, Action Now President.

“These are nothing but havens for crime. Having these abandoned buildings in our neighborhood is not acceptable.”

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