PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Abandoned homes can be a safety hazard and an eyesore, but there’s a bill in motion that plans to decrease the number of abandoned homes.
Leaders from Peoria, Decatur, Chicago and Rockford got together as part of a Vacant Property Leadership Institute with a goal of finding ways to impact local communities.
“Essentially, if somebody doesn’t pay the property taxes for a year, it goes to a tax auction. Someone then can purchase those taxes at a fairly high-interest rate, and if the citizen comes forward and redeems them and pays the interest rate, then everything’s good,” said Assistant Community Director for the City of Peoria, Joe Dulin.
The problem, however, is if the property is abandoned or vacant and nobody ever comes forward to redeem those taxes, then the property just sits vacant and abandoned for three years.
“After those three years, a tax buyer ultimately doesn’t really want the property, so they go through a multitude of different reasons that state law allows filing a sale and error in the process,” said Dulin. “And now, that entire process starts over.”
The new legislation would make it so that after three years if someone doesn’t pay their taxes back, a sale and error is filed. It then goes to the county trustee where the city would be notified to either put it back on the market or demolish it, much faster than before.
It’s an issue that Peoria residents are noticing. “Let’s let the people do what they need to do to keep the community a community and not allow abandoned houses to take over the community” said Allan Moore, a resident of Peoria’s Southside.
These abandoned homes, Dulin said, cause issues for the city, as well as the local residents.
“The city is constantly having to mow the grass, it’s a welcome target for arson, a lot of crime with broken windows, peeling paint, damaged roofs,” said Dulin. “Just something for people to break into, and then it just really reduces the property values of the surrounding properties.”
This is why state lawmakers intend to fix the issue.