- Chicago Newstips by Community Media Workshop - http://www.newstips.org -

Charge city demolitions ‘destroying our neighborhoods’

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The city’s program of demolishing vacant homes is just “creating more destruction in our neighborhoods” and not making areas any safer, according to leaders in impacted communities.

“There is no community imput or transparency,” said Charles Brown, a leader with Action Now [2].  “They are just coming in and creating more destruction in our neighborhoods.”

“Vacant lots are just as dangerous as vacant buildings,” said Brown, a retired police officer and Englewood resident.  “We need to build communities back up instead of knocking them down.”

He spoke as Mayor Emanuel announced the city has demolished the 200th home in what’s being billed as an anti-gang initiative.  There are over 15,000 vacant properties in Chicago.

“This top-down approach to the vacant building problems is just wiping out our neighborhoods,” said Action Now president Michelle Young.  “We want to bring families back into these homes and have the city invest in long-term solutions instead of quick fixes that don’t work.”

“Our biggest concern is the lack of transparency,” said Dan Kleinman, the group’s policy director.  He said Action Now has requested information from the city about buildings on the list to be demolished but has not received it.

“Why are these buildings being chosen for demolition?” he asked.  “Why weren’t they required to be secured under the vacant property ordinance?  Why wasn’t the option of revitalization considered?

“We don’t know because there isn’t any transparency,” he said.

Action Now is working on an ordinance to establish a Chicago Land Trust that could renovate vacant buildings into affordable rental homes.  (More on that here [3].)