Closings: Schools, churches, day-cares and businesses

East Alton tenants face eviction after village buys rental property

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EAST ALTON, IL (KPLR)-- Residents in an East Alton three family flat face eviction now that the village has purchased the property.   The tenants say previous landlords failed to keep the property up to code.

The village wants to turn the land into an attractive green space since it is on a busy road leading to the heart of the town.  Officials are giving the seven tenants until August first to move out but they still have to pay the July rent.  Residents worry they won`t be able to find housing they can afford that quickly.

"We`re about to lose our home. I don`t make enough money to move anywhere else.  I only work 15 to 17 hours a week," said basement renter Theresa Church.  She and her husband have no car so she must find work she can walk to.  Church says efforts to acquire a Section Eight rental voucher or an apartment in a subsidized housing project have failed to date.  "We`re on the waiting list," she said.

Amelia Goers rents one of the other apartments in the old house.   She described repeated troubles with landlords who failed to fix a leaky roof, broken windows, cracks in the wall, mold and a problem with roaches.

"I found  out the only hot water heater here is on my gas that makes it harder cause I pay for everybody`s hot water," Goers said with a sigh.  She lives on disability pay and is limited in what she can afford to spend for housing.

East Alton Treasurer Joe Silkwood said the village spent $25,000 to buy the property at 336 West Main.  "It is a heavily traveled area.  It is kind of the front door to our village," he pointed out.  The village plans to condemn the property,  tear it down, and turn it into green space.  But in the meantime, he promised to "make it safe for the residents to live in."

Thursday, village workers removed piles of trash in the home`s side yard and repaired some torn screens.  Silkwood urged East Alton residents to report complaints about landlords to the village.  We could correct problems if tenants allow us to come in and inspect their homes.

The village has filed charges against one of the previous landlords for renting two apartments in the house without having them inspected by the village.

Over the past fifteen years, East Alton leaders used grant funding and some village funds to buy dozens of property eyesores and to encourage builders to redevelop neighborhoods.

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