Chicago Reporter pushes city to secure vacant buildings, make banks pay up

The Chicago Reporter

Today, the Chicago City Council will hear an ordinance that would make banks that own vacant buildings secure their properties and pay up on their delinquent registration fees. That ordinance, supported by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, is a direct result of a Chicago Reporter investigation.

Reporter Angela Caputo uncovered the situation in our May issue, showing that the city lost out on at least $2.2 million as a result of building owners skirting regulations that they register vacant properties with the city and pay for their upkeep. Today's ordinance wouldn't allow banks to get around securing the property because it's in foreclosure.

Third Ward Alderman Pat Dowell is introducing the ordinance with the mayor's support, a scaled-down version of a previous ordinance that would have increased the fees associated with registering a vacant building by five times for owners who own more than five properties. After the Reporter released its investigation on how much the city was losing, and neighborhoods were suffering, from unsecured, unregistered vacant buildings, the city took notice. Alderman Dowell told Caputo that the article had gotten the Emanuel administration to support her measure.

But will the ordinance help? Right now, it's unclear that a city measure, without state backing, has the legal power to get banks to pay up.

Read more at The Chicago Reporters Muckrakers Blog

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