Proposal to Tackle More Problem Properties in Rockford

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ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- Abandoned and crumbling homes are a common sight in several Rockford neighborhoods, a negative trend many people want to reverse as quickly as possible and some Rockford city council members plan to get more aggressive in dealing with problem properties.

Gloria Locke and her family have lived in Southwest Rockford for more than 50 years. She says it’s a shame too many homes in the area have been allowed to fall apart.

"Some of them aren't that bad, but no one is living in them so I guess they’re kind of hard to sell. I think the landlord should fix them it and it would be nice," says Gloria Locke.

The city receives grant money from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to get rid of blighted homes. In previous years, the city would use 10% of the grant, about $200,000, to cover 20 demolitions.

"I think there’s 20 right here in this neighborhood, I think they need to do 100. People stay away from the neighborhoods where the houses are abandoned," says Locke.

“They should do more since we have the school right here,” says neighbor Diego Centano.

Some aldermen say since they have the option, the council should double the amount spent on tearing down vacant homes. That way, criminals will have fewer spots to break the law and hide from police. Neighbors say, that's why they'd welcome an empty lot over the uncertainty of a vacant home.

“They could turn it into a small park for the area kids,” says neighbor Damien Dragon.

“You know put down some flowers and pretty landscape, I think that looks better," says Locke.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development allows cities to use up to 30% of this type of grant to get rid of blighted buildings. Several on the council want to use the full amount so more houses can come down. Aldermen hope with more money for demos, they can tackle at least 50 problem properties around the city.

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