Rockford Church Group Cleans Up Neighborhood

By: Alice Barr
By: Alice Barr

One local church group is making it their mission to clean up run-down houses, and in the process, sweep crime off the streets.

"Somebody broke in and busted the whole tub all up," says Roger Eggert of St. Paul Urban Ministries.

When Saint Paul Urban Ministries bought this house on North Horsman Street in west Rockford it was what you might call a fixer-upper.

"It was a drug house. They're gone naturally. It was boarded up when we got it. Had to have all electrical and plumbing redone. But it's one of the better looking houses on the block now," Eggert said.

Roger and Lowes Eggert have spent a decade with the ministry buying and fixing up run-down houses in this Saint Paul Place neighborhood, that borders the Coronado-Haskell weed and seed area. They no longer live here, but they still attend Saint Paul Lutheran Church down the street.

"About ten years ago there were a group of us who got really interested in being a little more proactive in the neighborhood, seeing things decline and not liking the way they were going and we felt we could do better for people," says Lowes Eggert.

The ministry has sold one house and rents out two more. The group seeks tenants who will help their grassroots movement to lift up the neighborhood.

"People would find that they would need to be a worthy tenant, but also give people a chance to get a start that maybe haven't had that opportunity," Lowes said.

Alecia Marshall moved to this house from Chicago. She loves the community and says neighbors tell her the ministry's investment has made a huge difference over the past decade.

"People are taking a little better pride in the neighborhood. It's cleaner, it's nicer, people are more friendly," says Roger Eggert.

Marshall adds, "The police too, when you get something like this, they're more attentive, they're more apt to do their job, rather than just it, especially if the neighbors are willing to get in there and pitch in with you to keep the drugs out."

The ministry plans to go on making change from the ground up.

Roger Eggert also says property values have gone way up in the neighborhood. He says a house the group could have bought for nine thousand dollars five or six years ago, would now cost 35-thousand dollars.
To help out, contact St. Paul Lutheran Church at (815) 963-7641.

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  • by fazsha Location: Millbrae, CA on May 31, 2008 at 04:17 PM
    Rockford, rise up and heal yourself! Rich citizens of Rockford, do like I do, buy two of the most rundown houses in the city and fix them up. Rockford is my hometown, and I will not sit by and do nothing. You must give back.
  • by Helen Location: Rockford on May 26, 2008 at 07:56 AM
    We have enough trouble taking care of our own poor people, we don't need them coming to Rockford from Chicago. We just cannot afford it.
  • by Christine. on May 25, 2008 at 08:53 AM
    I really enjoyed reading that article. I pray that other churches will pick another area to concentrate on. My vision is to get rid of the blight in the community. We could declare a "WAR ON BLIGHT" Let's do it! Continued Success!
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