Region 1 Planning Council named Winnebago County’s agency to fight blight

Local News

In an effort to fight blight, villages and cities in Winnebago County teamed up together. The communities wanted to look into new ways in how government deals with abandoned properties.

Thursday, the Winnebago County Board approved to have the Region 1 Planning Council as it’s delinquent tax program agent.

The program’s goal is to sell abandoned properties and get them back onto the property tax roll but it hadn’t been changed since the mid 90’s.

The previous agency was based out of Decatur, IL and only held up to two auctions a year.

Local municipalities say having a local agency will help accomplish more.

R 1 says it has a more innovative approach. It will have properties for sale year-round online and vet potential buyers.

Instead of simply taking the highest bidder, it will consider the buyer and who could be the long term owner.

“Those individuals who are buying these properties, if they have 40 different code violations on their current properties, they probably dont deserve another property in our community,” said Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara (D).

“Our job is not to own these properties,” said Region 1 Planning Council Executive Director Michael Dunn, Jr. “Our job is not to, you know, have to deal with all the consequences that a city would have to deal with when these properties are blighted. Our deal, is really if you want to simplify it, it’s to be the real estate agent and find ways to find buyers for these properties.”

There is about 650 blighted homes in Winnebago County, R 1 Planning says it could start selling as soon as it has it’s first meeting with the county.

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