Chicago’s Vacant Property Ordinance Paying Off

May 08, 2012

While foreclosed and empty buildings are hurting our home values and neighborhoods, one ordinance has allowed the city to profit in a small way from its vacant Chicago real estate.

In the first three months of the year, the city pulled in $619,000 in fines from more than 150 financial institutions that violated the vacant property ordinance, which was updated by the city last year.

a boarded up vacant building in chicagoAs a result, Chicago will be able to hire more inspectors to investigate vacant properties around Chicago by the end of October.

“Chicago’s updated vacant properties ordinance is a national example of how cities can protect residents from the devastating impact vacant properties have on the economy and public safety of our communities,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “The results are clear: we are able to further ensure that banks do their part by securing these properties and working towards stability in our neighborhoods.”

During the first quarter of 2012, more than 2,500 violations were issued to over 150 lenders that failed to keep up with vacant foreclosed properties as required under the city ordinance. The $619,000 in fines is a 123 percent increase from the $277,200 collected in the first quarter of 2011.

In addition, 4,436 vacant properties were registered through the ordinance from October 2011 through April 2012; that’s a 56 percent increase from the same time the previous year when 2,883 vacant property registrations were issued.

But there is still work to be done. Despite the success of the ordinance, there is still an estimated 6,500 properties to be investigated; nearly two-thirds of the 18,000 unregistered vacant buildings reported in the city last year.

“I’m proud to have led the charge to revise Chicago’s vacant properties ordinance and these results are promising,” said Alderman Pat Dowell, who led the effort to update Chicago’s vacant properties ordinance last year. “There is still more to be done, and we must increase the pressure on banks to come into compliance and work to combat the negative impact foreclosures and vacant properties have in our neighborhoods.”

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