DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA)– The city is trying to tear down vacant houses, but the problem is building up faster than they can knock it down. At the beginning of this year, the city had 137 homes on the demolition list. Now, there are more beyond repair. Decatur city officials says they’re trying. They’re working to get crumbling structures like this one taken down. This year they demolished 26 homes in the city and boarded up dozens of others.
“With that said, the number of houses that need to be demolished in the city has increased at a rate that we have not been able to keep pace with,” said Decatur City Council Member David Horn. At the beginning of the year, 137 houses need to come down. Now there are 191 homes on that list. That’s about a 40 percent increase. Those empty homes concern neighbors. “Somebody going to get hurt. That’s the only thing that concerns me is somebody going in that house, some kids and getting hurt,” said Jeff Collingwood. “It brings the drug addicts that come use it for shooting. They use it for smoking their stuff in. Homeless people use it to sleep in even if it is burnt out. It’s not good. I wouldnt want to buy a house next to that,” said Floyd Hamilton. “Houses such as these really need to be torn down and the lot repurposed as quickly as possible,” said Horn.
Horn says there are a number of reasons why it’s taking a while to get these homes demolished. That includes lengthy court processes and finding money to do it. He says council needs to continue to make funding these demolitions a top priority. “We need a bold and aspirational plan, but we also need a budget that is commensurate with the needs that we need for neighborhood revitalization,” said Horn.