Machesney Park targets blighted homes for demolition

By Jim Hagerty
Contributor

MACHESNEY PARK — Like the City of Rockford, Machesney Park is preparing to eliminate blight within its village limits.

The village was awarded a grant through the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) to complement its Initiative To Abate Housing Blight (ITAHB) program.  Leaders say six vacant properties will be demolished. They were selected after several Machesney Park neighborhoods were measured for blight.

To be eligible for the IHDA state program, homes must be vacant and contain an incomplete structure. Homes must be in disrepair with no construction within six months.

Owners must also have given written notice to abandon the homes. That condition is often waived if police have received at least one report of trespassing, vandalism or other illegal acts being committed at blighted properties in the last six months; or the homes have been declared unfit for occupancy by a court or municipality.

Leaders say the effort will not only reduce blight but help surrounding property values, some of which are still reeling from the Great Recession. Waves of homes were lost in foreclosure because of the banking crash and some have remained vacant. There’s also a public safety concern when blighted properties go unaddressed for long periods. They become structurally dangerous and magnets for vagrancy and criminal activity.

“Several of the applicable homes were the product of subprime lending that occurred over 10 years ago,” Community Development Director James Richter II said. “This program helps to improve neighborhoods that have been blemished by a few abandoned structures.”

Funds Machesney Park does not spend on demolition can be used to secure other blighted property for future demolition or rehab unused buildings.

Demolition began this week.

Machesney Park used a $3 million federal grant last year to raze 24 blighted properties located in its floodplain, which includes the Shore Drive area that is commonly affected when the Rock River rises.

Rockford is currently tackling the same issue. The city owns more than 2,000 vacant properties. While many have been destroyed by flooding, others are bank foreclosures left to the elements. The city recently tapped 29 homes for demolition, bringing it one shy of the goal to raze 100 properties in 2017. R.

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