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Quick Hit
by Steven Ross Johnson
Tue Jan 22, 2013

A Look At What The Cook County Land Bank Hopes To Accomplish

In an effort to reverse the problems that have cropped up in a number of communities over recent years as a result of the rise in vacant and abandoned properties, the Cook County Board voted last week to create a countywide land bank, a move Board Commissioner Bridget Gainer is hopeful will act as a first step towards economic revitalization for some of the area’s most blighted neighborhoods.

Last week, the Cook County Board voted unanimously in favor of forming the Cook County Land Bank Authority, which will be tasked with acquiring vacant and abandoned properties with the goal of making them taxable entities once they’re redeveloped.

Once up and running, the Authority will be geograpically the largest land bank in the country. Gainer said much of its focus, in the beginning, will be on helping communities that have been hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis.

“One of the things that I worried about when we traveled all over the county talking to people in these communities was that some of these communities are going to hit a point of no return with the percentage of vacancies,” Gainer said. “We’ve got to jump in and stop that from happening.”

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Thu Jan 17, 2013

Community Group Rallies Around Elderly Women Set To Lose Home Due To Alleged Bank Error

Belmont-Cragin resident Mary Bonelli is 76-years-old, has cancer and is about to be thrown out of the home that’s been in her family for nearly 100 years.

Her home went into foreclosure in the spring of 2011 due to a bank error, she said, and by the time she realized the problem, it was too late.

Yesterday, she was put on the Cook County Sheriff’s eviction list.

“A lot of people will think, ‘Oh she didn’t pay the mortgage,’” Bonelli said inside her home Wednesday night before a candlelight vigil on her porch with supporters. “That’s the first thing that pops into people’s minds. They don’t know the whole story.”

PI Original
by Steven Ross Johnson
Mon Nov 5, 2012

Third Party Politics: Talking To Green Party Candidates On The 2012 Ballot

Often regarded as residing on the fringe of American politics, third parties have been viewed by their supporters as an important alternative to the platforms presented by the country’s two major parties. We talk to a couple of Green Party candidates on the ballot this year, including presidential candidate Jill Stein. 

Quick Hit
by Matthew Blake
Mon Oct 29, 2012

City Touts Building Demolitions In Crime Prevention, But Is There A Connection?

Today, the city of Chicago demolished its “200th dangerous building” since July 12, according to the office of Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The mayor stated in a press release that demolitions are “preventing criminal activity in our neighborhoods.”

Is this true? “We’ve been knocking down houses since the 1930’s and it’s not clear if this has a significant effect on crime rates,” says Bradford Hunt, a sociology professor at Roosevelt University who studies Chicago housing issues.

Also in question: How does the city determine what properties see the wrecking ball?