Letters to the Editor 5/12/11
Low income apartments and abandonded buildings
I have to say I don’t follow the goings on of the Springfield City Council all that closely but I am flabbergasted at Ald. Gail Simpson’s total lack of regard for her constituents when she supported the Chicago-based Daveri Development Group in their bid to build an apartment complex on Laurel Street and Taylor Avenue, especially in the wake of the recommendation against the rezoning by the Zoning and Planning Commission [see “Neighbors shut out of decision on low-income apartments,” by Grace Sweatt, May 5].
I appreciate that property owners have the right of free enterprise and that as citizens we cannot always be happy with changes in our neighborhood. Ms. Simpson’s concerns may have been addressed by meeting with Daveri Development Group and touring their facilities. As a representative of Ward 2, her responsibility was to pass this information on to the neighborhood residents. Based on this article, this proposition should not have passed with Ms. Simpson’s help. Ms. Simpson was voted to represent her section of Springfield, her constituents. She shouldn’t represent just her position on the issues.
I am a little surprised Ms. Simpson was reelected to her council position. It will be interesting to see if she is again.
Seven million dollars for 44 units of housing equates to $159,900 per unit [see “Neighbors shut out of decision on low-income apartments,” May 5]. Does anyone find this utterly ridiculous – spending almost $160,000 per efficiency apartment for housing that no one in the neighborhood wants? That amount could buy 140 $50,000 homes and house more than three times the number of low-income families. Someone is benefiting from this deal, but it’s not the community.
Name withheld by request
As I walked thorough my ward in my recent election campaign, I encountered far too many abandoned buildings. Neighbors told me that many were in foreclosure, some for years. Generally, nobody was taking care of these properties, except in those few cases where good neighbors had taken it on themselves to cut the grass and otherwise maintain the abandoned property to keep it from bringing down the rest of the neighborhood.
The abandoned properties also drain city resources because the burden to maintain them falls on the municipality, plus they generate police and fire calls, draining even more municipal resources.
There is now a bill in the Illinois House designed to address this serious problem. The Lender Responsiblility Act (HB 1109) would authorize Springfield and other municipalities to enact ordinances to hold lenders responsible for maintaining and securing vacant properties upon which they are foreclosing. In many cases, the property owner owes more on the house than it is worth and can no longer afford the monthly mortgage payments, so they simply walk away from it. In those cases it makes sense to compel the only entity with a real interest in the property, the mortgage holder, to take care of it.
The Lender Responsibility Act would give Springfield and other cities an important new tool to fight abandoned buildings.
Both State Representatives Raymond Poe and Rich Brauer, who represent Springfield, are uncommitted on HB 1109. The deadline to pass it in the House has been extended to Friday, May 20. To help our older neighborhoods, urge Poe and Brauer to vote Yes on the Lender Responsibility Act (HB 1109). Poe is at 782-0044 or firstname.lastname@example.org and Brauer at 782-0053 or email@example.com.
Alderman, Ward 5