Vacant Homes Causing Problems

ROCKFORD (WIFR) – Vacant homes have become a big problem in Rockford. As of January, there were nearly 2,000 empty units and the empty homes are leading to some crime.

Cal Parham has lived in in a west-side home on Royal Street for 15 years and says vacant properties are becoming more of a problem.

“People are coming and dumping their trash and stuff in there instead of going and paying for the stuff to be dumped.

Cal wasn’t kidding. A visit to a vacant home on 315 Royal Street, just a block away from Cal, showed a ton of garbage cluttering the area.

He says the garbage makes the neighborhood look bad.

Messing with vacant homes is more than a nuisance, it can be dangerous. A few condemned units have even caught on fire. The fire department is calling them both arson.

That’s why the city is on the lookout for abandoned homes.

“In some cases, we board them up, some of them we take through a demolition process where we put them on notice that the structure will be demolished if nothing is done to it in a certain time frame,” said Seth Sommer, a Rockford Building code official.

That’s what Cal wants.

“Tear these abandoned, broken buildings down, where the landlord is not taking care of them, tear them down.”

The fires at those two vacant both happened this morning, one on North Horsman and the other on Kilburn, just blocks away. If you’d like to report a problem with a vacant home, you can call the city at 815-987-5550.

If someone is caught inside a condemned home, the city ordinance can fine a person anywhere from $150-$500. However, they could face more fines if they’re charged with criminal trespassing or burglary.

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