Ex-Health Center Crime Magnet?

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The Singer Mental Health Center in Northwest Rockford sits abandoned five years after a lack of state funding forced it to shut down.

A series of pictures circulating on social media shows how much it’s deteriorated. The former center sits right next to a neighborhood. Residents are concerned it’s becoming a crime magnet.

“Well it’s a shame it is in that condition and I’m sorry they closed it,” said Aphrodite Liakouras, a resident who lives near the vacant building.

Photos show a vacant building.  It was once a place where some went to get help, but since the state of Illinois closed the doors in 2012. Now, it’s the building that needs recovery.  Photos posted on social media show needles and medical equipment scattered throughout the floor, unkept lawns and trees and mold on parts of the floor and walls.  As the building sits damaged and alone, residents like Leonard Cowart has many concerns.

“It’s getting pretty bad over there,” said Cowart. “You can see people breaking windows and spray painting and ripping letters… off the wall and everything else,” said Cowart.

“I hear strange things and Athena starts barking and the dogs over there start barking, so you know people are out there,” said Liakouras. “How do I know they don’t have drugs in there or have people meet them there because they know nobody is there?”

The late-night foot-traffic on some residential properties creates fear for some families like Cowart’s.

“We do have a little one that lives here with us,” said Cowart.  “So, it is kind of scary to have people walking through here constantly.”

The state released a statement concerning the shape of the building saying:

    “The Illinois Deparmtent of Central Management services is aware of the recent vandalism and trespassing at the Singer Mental Health Center and is working with security personnel and local authorities to prosecute criminal trespassers.  Unfortunately, vandalism and deterioration have been ongoing issues since the facility was shuttered in 2012 as the State moves through the process of divesting of the property.”

Most residents want the building torn down.

“I know something is going on in there,” said Liakouras.

The state also has plans to install video monitoring in order to prevent any further damage to the property and criminal activity.  Currently, the building is supervised by security officers. Anyone that trespasses will be prosecuted.

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