Two Different Foreclosure Plans Get Two Different Reactions

Two South Loop aldermen introduced legislation to address the growing problem of vacant foreclosed properties, although the advocacy group Action Now supports one while being skeptical of the other. The Chicago Journal reported on October 12, 2011, that while Action Now said the revised version of vacant building legislation from Pat Dowell (3rd Ward) “might not be worth doing,” the group does “unequivocally support” an ordinance from Bob Fioretti (2nd Ward).

According to the Journal, Dowell’s “new ordinance overly restricts the definition of what properties are considered vacant,” Action Now says. The original version of Dowell’s measure sought to make mortgage servicers holding a property after foreclosure secure and maintain that building unanimously passed the City Council on July 28. Action Now, however, contends that when the banks persuaded Dowell and Mayor Rahm Emanuel to revise the legislation, the advocacy group was not part of the negotiations. The updated legislation, they say, expands the definition of what properties are not vacant.

Fioretti’s “more modest ordinance,” co-sponsored by Deborah Graham (29th), would make mortgage servicers or whoever else legally holds a vacant property deploy watchmen at abandoned buildings that are within 1,000 feet of schools, according to the Journal. The bank or institution owning the vacant property would pay for the watchmen, Fioretti told the Journal. The alderman also proposed a different ordinance that would set up credit unions in tax increment financing districts, to pool unused TIF money toward the rehabilitation of foreclosed properties.

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Aldermen, Teachers Seek Safe Passages

“The foreclosure crisis is taking a toll on our city,” Alderman Bob Fioretti told the Chicago Tribune on October 2, 2011. Fioretti and Alderman Deborah Graham were joining the Chicago Teachers Union and the group Action NOW at a press conference outside Leland Elementary School in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood to announce the proposed Safe Passages ordinance.

The Tribune said banks would be required to “hire watchmen from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to keep an eye on vacant properties within a thousand yards of a school,” or face fines if the city council approves the measure. The teachers union says the shift to longer school days for some locations makes the matter more urgent, and the district has boosted funding for its own program that uses “community watchers to monitor students traveling in rough neighborhoods,” according to the Tribune.

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