Winnebago County leaders make fixing blight a top priority

Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 6:10 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Winnebago County leaders admit blight plagues the area, and fixing it is one of their top priorities.

“We want to reduce the blight in these neighborhoods, and we want to make sure that people have pride in their home ownerships,” said county board chairman Joseph Chiarelli.

Leaders are using multiple strategies to try and reduce this blight. They work with Region One Planning Council to make use of a land bank, targeting properties that are at least two years tax delinquent.

“They’re creating blight. Boarded up windows, sometimes there’s vagrancy, and it allows us to quickly clear title, clear any cloud of defect and title and get the property back in a responsible parties’ hands and get it paying property taxes again,” said Michael Dunn Jr. with Region One Planning.

They’re also making use of the Trustee Program, allowing residents in neighboring residencies to take the properties under their wings.

“We had an abundance of vacant lots in the trustee program that are adjacent to or nearby homes. So what we did is we notified these homeowners that if you have an adjacent property that’s vacant, we can offer you that property for free,” Chiarelli said.

While trying to fill empty businesses with new ones.

“We’ve had a big push since December we’ve had 5 small business loans go through. Over 330,000 dollars to get out to small businesses, try and boost the economy,” said Chirs Dornbush, the County’s Director of Economic Development.

Using all these strategies, the city put more than 800 properties back in the hands of taxpayers, finding success stories through them. Marshmallow’s Hope is one of them. The organization will renovate a building through the Trustee Program.

“To be able to renovate a deteriorating home that’s causing blight in that neighborhood and to ultimately give it to a veteran for their service. I mean what better gift can you give back to a veteran?” Chiarelli told 23 News.

Region One has shifted to auctioning off properties online as opposed to in person. This increases the number of buyers for their Land Bank Properties. More buyers increase the likelihood of getting the land out of the Governments hands and into the hands of taxpayers.