There are eight vacant buildings on the block that are not being properly maintained by the banks that own them. Neighbors were very concerned about the crime that these buildings attract as well as the trash strewn all over the lawns and the buildings not being properly secured. Residents have called 311 numerous times but have received no response.
Jim Wright is a truck driver that has lived on the 5400 block of S. Laflin for 39 years. He says he has seen the neighborhood change dramatically. “There used to be a lot of families living on the block and the kids were able to play outside and have block parties. As they got older, many of the parents left their homes to their children, but their children lost them to foreclosure and now crime has taken over the block,” said Mr. Wright. Now, children can’t play outside because of the violence. Mr. Wright says that six kids have been shot on his block in the past seven years. The vacant buildings have not only brought crime but they are also a safety hazard because they are not maintained. One of the houses has been vacant for 8 years and the overgrown trees were a danger for kids walking to school.
This block is just one example of how the foreclosure epidemic has affected Chicago neighborhoods. Banks have foreclosed on families and kicked them out of their homes, yet they refuse to maintain the vacant buildings that are left behind. Now neighbors are forced to hold block clean-ups like this one because the banks refuse to take responsibility for the large number of vacant properties that they now own. Why are community residents forced to do the banks job? Why aren’t banks being held responsible for the destruction of Chicago’s neighborhoods?