From restaurant inspections and complaints about Housing Authority complexes to every arrest in Champaign-Urbana and tax incentive agreements, CU-CitizenAccess has provided much-needed transparency to a number of issues involving East Central Illinois in the past few years.
In the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016, the city’s public works department responded to 329 pothole service requests from residents — a slight decrease from the 397 service requests in the previous fiscal year.
“The state of Illinois expects us to spend more than half a million dollars and maybe – or maybe not – get reimbursed for it in this fiscal year,” said Isak Griffiths, the executive director of Courage Connection. “That’s a huge burden to put on a social service agency.”
CHAMPAIGN-URBANA: Since the housing market crashed in 2007, the cities of Champaign and Urbana have received more than $2 million in state and federal dollars to combat vacant and nuisance housing. Yet the number of empty houses is still climbing. As of 2014, one in every 10 housing units in Champaign County sat vacant, according to the most recent U.S. census data available. That total number, 8,700, was nearly double the number of vacant housing units in the year 2000. Each year, Champaign puts at least $20,000 into demolishing homes across the city.
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.