Action Now put more pressure on big banks to clean up and secure their foreclosed properties last week. Using a vacant lot located at 726 N. Kedzie as a backdrop, the community organization pressed the city to enforce its Vacant Property Ordinance. In June, a woman was allegedly raped and beaten in the lot.
James Foster, father of a 2 year-old, lives in the home directly behind the lot, sharing an alley with it. After hearing the woman’s screams he called police and accompanied her onto his porch to wait for them to arrive. There have not been any arrests in the crime as of yet.
JP Morgan Chase is responsible for the lot and, according to a press release, the lot was unsecured despite being adjacent to Kells Park and across the street from the Richard M. Daley Public Library.
“There is a gap between the lot and Kells Park... as a result criminal activity routinely spills over into the the park,” said Foster. “The park where my son and the children of this neighborhood go to play.”
Calls to Chase are yet to be returned.
“Chase has failed to secure this lot and the city has failed to address what is a glaring public safety issue,” continued Foster.
Foster and Action Now spokesperson Aileen Keliher say the lot was made presentable only after their press release went out. Prior to the clean up, the lot's fencing was covered in weeds providing cover for illicit activities. Many of the weeds in the lot were at least knee high and a make shift campsite sat near the back of the lot. The property was mowed and weeded, but the back remains unsecured and two large openings allow pedestrian traffic to flow from the park to the other side.
The Vacant Property Ordinance went into effect on September 10, making banks responsible for the maintenance and security of foreclosed homes and lots. There have been 146 calls to 311 pertaining to service requests for vacant and abandoned buildings since the ordinance started.
“It does us no good to have laws on the books if they are not going to be enforced,” observed Michelle Young, president of Action Now.