ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — The Faust Landmark on E. State Street provides affordable housing for seniors and the disabled, but the area around the high rise has become a hotspot for criminal activity.
Patrick Jones, a disabled Marine who lives at the Faust, says he is a frequent bus rider and often uses the bus shelter across the street from the former hotel.
“A lot of us are disabled and older, and it gives us a place, some shelter from the weather and a place to sit down,” Jones said.
The shelter is being used for more than a place to wait for a ride, according to Mayor Tom McNamara, “There’s a lot more day drinking going on in that bus shelter than there is actually waiting for a bus.”
“They sleep in there,” Jones said. “Sometimes, they just sit there all day long and not ride the bus. And, sometimes, they smoke dope in there.”
Rockford Police requested that the Rockford Mass Transit District remove the shelters for the time being, to discourage the criminal activity.
“The only difference is that they’re not going to have shelter in case of inclement weather,” said RMTD’s marketing and communications director, Lisa Brown.
McNamara says he agrees with RMTD’s action.
“I have heard from residents, I’ve heard from businesses, I’ve heard from non-profits, I’ve heard from the people who live in the Faust, that the amount of drug dealing taking place just outside the Faust and at that bus stop specifically, and right across the street at that vacant [lot], it’s excessive and frightens many of the folks who live over at the Faust,” he said.
Jones says he hopes the removal of the bus shelter is temporary.
“It should be up to the police to enforce that and get rid of them people so we have a place to sit,” he said.
Brown said RMTD will consider replacing the shelters if criminal activity in the area decreases.