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Home repairs – Chicago Tribune

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“This is a safety issue and dangerous,” Alice told me. Alice is a black woman in her sixties who lives alone in the Garfield Park area of ​​Chicago. In Illinois, like the rest of the United States, home fires, collapsed buildings and porches kill many people each year, especially in older buildings, especially in communities of color.

Last month, Governor JB Pritzker said, Homeownership program reopeningThe Opening Doors (Abriendo Puertas) program provides working-class families and low-income residents of color with a $6,000 down payment and/or home closing costs. This is an important step in compensating for past discrimination in the housing market, but overlooks the critical issue of home repair.

The house Alice spent her life with is over 100 years old. Even though she has a fixed income and she knows the porch is a problem and is concerned for her personal safety, she can’t afford to fix it. (Real names of homeowners quoted in this article have not been used out of privacy.)

We often hear stories of landlords neglecting maintenance in rental properties. But homeowners also deal with maintenance issues. Also, programs like Opening Her Doors help Alice buy a home, but they don’t help keep it valued or safe.

All buildings are dilapidated, with crumbling bricks and rotting wood without preventative maintenance. Occupants of older homes have been exposed to lead paint and lead pipes, mold from water damage, unsafe winter and summer temperatures, warped floorboards, broken doors and windows, and other fire-producing conditions that increase the risk of falls and injuries. I live with it. More likely and more often fatal.

The inability to repair or update one’s own home is a deadly epidemic that is out of control. As a professor and researcher, I have studied how housing regulations, building materials, and legal structures perpetuate this prevalence of devastation in Chicago. I have accompanied building code inspectors and attended housing court cases. I’ve spoken to over 50 of her homeowners in Illinois. These homeowners are struggling to pay for repairs to cover building code violations. We’ve seen firsthand how unattended repairs not only create dangerous and unhealthy conditions, but also drive longtime homeowners into foreclosures and prevent seniors from aging in their own homes.

What continues to amaze me is the degree to which the burden of this crisis falls on the shoulders of individual homeowners. Even though our homes play an important role in public health and community safety, even though we know these buildings and the materials that make them up have a useful life. No comprehensive program exists to support repairs and maintenance.

until now. Pennsylvania recently struck a key blow in its fight against housing insecurity. whole home repair programThe program creates a one-stop-shop for residents to repair, upgrade, and adapt their homes with grants of up to $50,000, while building a local workforce and creating new jobs to sustain families in growing areas. Add

After nearly a decade of research, starting a program like Whole House Repair across Illinois is one of the only ways to effectively protect the health and safety of people like Alice at home. I’m sure there is.

Adrienne shows how the repair program works in Chicago. she is 72 years old home repair program It exists all over the city of Chicago and has helped her repair roofs and porches.

“I am very happy that the city is offering these programs because I was probably in foreclosure by now,” she told me. “Because if I had to pay for all the repairs I’ve been doing, especially roof repairs, I can’t do that. I would have to sell the house.”

Much of the housing stock in Illinois, like the rest of the United States, is over 100 years old. Adrienne’s repairs to her 110-year-old home helped her avoid foreclosure. Adrienne was one of the lucky ones. Her name was chosen by lottery for the city’s repair program. Lottery tickets are in high demand and many homeowners remain on the waiting list.

Others live in homes so dilapidated that they are not qualified to ask for help, and many more in need don’t even know the current city programs exist.

Everyone should be safe at home. No one is financially destitute due to repair costs associated with aging buildings. This will require extensive coordination of programs to cover material and labor costs, as well as a need to build up a skilled workforce to carry out repair work and meet high demand.

Pennsylvania’s All Home Repair Act is the first comprehensive piece of legislation to deliver on these promises and provide a real path to fulfilling them. Pritzker shows some commitment to improving the homeownership gap.

Robin Bertram is an assistant professor of sociology at Tulane University andStacked Decks: Recreating Building Inspectors and Urban Inequality

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