Laying the Foundation
Developing an Improved Approach to Problem Properties in Rockford
Published: September 2016
Author(s): Center for Community Progress
In winter 2016, Community Progress — through our technical assistance scholarship program — worked with the City of Rockford, Illinois to help the City in its holistic, community-based approach to addressing the issues caused by vacancy and abandonment.
Through our research, we identified the following observations:
- There is a strong need to develop a clear definition and better understanding of which properties are causing the most harm to Rockford Communities
- Very few parties fully grasped the opportunities available ot the City (and barriers) to compel compliance with housing and building codes and for responsible property owners to potentially avoid fines or seek additional help
- The City and Winnebago County described an absence of communication with respect to problem properties
- The City is operating with an estimated $3.4 million structural deficit, greatly limiting staffing and initiatives that might help combat the problems created by vacancy and abandonment
- Some community stakeholders described Rockford as a place where entrenched and systemic classism and racism over decades has led to distrust of many local government policies
- Illinois law and policy provide insufficient leverage for communities hoping to utilize existing systems, like code enforcement, to fully incentivize or compel property owners to maintain property
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