Champaign targets certain neighborhoods for demolition

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Darrell Hoemann/CU Citizen-Access

The homes at 1526, 1528 and 1530 Hedge Road, seen here on September 20, are on Champaign's list of vacant structures being monitored by city staff.

Each year, Champaign spends $20,000 from its Urban Renewal Fund to demolish about two nuisance properties.

David Oliver, code compliance manager, said another $50,000 from the state’s Abandoned Property Program funds was used to demolish five nuisance properties in Champaign in 2016.

“The Code Compliance Division responds to citizen complaints on housing deficiencies and systematically has inspection programs in targeted neighborhoods such as Garden Hills,” Oliver said. “Through the code compliance process, we have seen many housing improvements.”

Oliver’s department is currently monitoring 118 vacant nuisance properties, according to information obtained via the Freedom of Information Act.

These houses make up about 5 percent of vacant houses citywide, but represent the worst of the worst, officials said. Those are houses with repeated code violations, safety issues or are home to criminal activity. The monitored homes are largely located in more troubled neighborhoods because city staff closely monitors those areas.

In the three years leading up to 2015, the City of Urbana demolished 15 properties using Blight Reduction Program and Community Development Block Grant Program funds.

Urbana’s Grants Manager Kelly Mierkowski said they used the funds to demolish properties in targeted areas and then make the land available for non-profits like Habitat for Humanity to build affordable homes. Urbana said in its 2015 application for new funds that it spent $28,000 on each property.

In the beginning of this year, Spear and Oliver initiated a program they said they will unite their efforts.

The code compliance division sends the neighborhoods program their list of nuisance houses. Spear and her team then assess each property to see whether it would be better to rehabilitate the home rather than demolish it.

Click on the map below to explore the vacant houses that Champaign city officials are watching. This list is subject to updates and not all properties may be vacant at this time. Source: City of Champaign, obtained on August 30, 2016