Thursday, January 24, 2013

Sun-Times: County edges closer to buying up vacant, foreclosed properties

A Cook County land bank was mentioned in an open letter from 6th Ward Alderman Roderick Sawyer back on January 15. Do you believe this to be a good idea in communities that have suffered as a result of the real estate crash and the current recession?
What is being dubbed the nation’s largest landbank — an independent agency set up to acquire vacant land and foreclosed homes and commercial property in Chicago and the suburbs — moved one step closer to setting up shop Tuesday.

The Cook County Board’s finance committee signed off on creating the new landbank – in hopes of cleaning up neighborhoods and returning abandoned property to the tax roles. Because the finance committee’s membership is identical to the full County Board, the measure is expected to sail through final approval during Wednesday’s meeting.

County Commissioner Bridget Gainer, credited with taking the lead on the measure, said the cash-strapped county government wouldn’t have to fund the landbank. Instead, the roughly $15 million in seed money needed during the first three years of operation will likely come from local foundations and grants.

The money will be used for anything from hiring staff to purchasing property to rehabbing or demolishing it.
We learned that as far as this proposal goes the Greater Chatham Alliance has some reservations about it believing there could be serious repercussions for south side neighborhoods if there is little community input on such a program. What do you think?

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