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Deal With Neglect

Editor, News-Register:

Eyesores, trash in yards, junk and unlicensed cars, trucks, RV’s, boats, abandoned structures, poorly maintained rental units and owner occupied homes, and homeless camps. A sign of the times?

Except for the homeless camps, I don’t think so; we’ve had these conditions for many years. Granted its’ getting worst and seems to have spread to many previously untouched neighborhoods. Why? An overabundance of housing due to a shrinking and aging population. Investors and speculators who purchased a lot of single and multiple family housing units, to engage in the rental business, only to see the demand evaporate due to a lack of jobs in the area.

Neglect by home owners due to a lack of energy, money, and motivation to maintain their homes. What can we do?

The city needs to fairly and aggressively enforce the housing and building codes. In my opinion that hasn’t been the case. Possible tools to addressing these problems include, but may not be limited to the following: Review, evaluate, and if necessary make changes or enact legislation that will provide a means to stabilize the condition and maintenance of our housing stock. More emphasis on rental units, periodic and yearly inspections in conjunction with the health department. Financial aid using low-interest loans or grants to improve or maintain owner occupied homes. A one-time offer to cover one third of the cost of demolition of a structure that has been condemned, up to a maximum of $15,000. Widen streets prior to re-paving projects to accommodate parking and to ensure the passage of fire-fighting equipment. Thus making the neighborhood a more desirable area to reside in.

What about the homeless encampments? They’re definitely an eyesore, and are usually located on private or public property without the permission of the owner(s). They need to be eliminated for a number of reasons, unsightly, unhealthy, unsanitary, illegal, and a safety risk to the occupants and citizens to mention a few. That’s the easy part.

What do we do with the people that are living in these camps. We (the city) need to work through, and with, our social service agencies, churches, and volunteer organizations to create a self-sustaining housing alternative with the goal to help the homeless transition back into the mainstream of society. Raise your voices and be heard — its’ your city and our government.

P. Jacobs

Wheeling

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