$3.5 million dollars of your tax dollars have, so far, paid for bigger problems in Belleville, Illinois. It’s an affordable housing project one alderman says was sneaked by him. <runtime:topic id="PESPT003084">Chris Hayes</runtime:topic> reveals this HUD/IHDA project that’s way behind schedule and that appears impossible to succeed.
On a historic street in Belleville, sits an apartment complex that’s frightened neighbors for a long time.
One neighbor said, "It was so awful, I would’ve said to tear it down."
She hopes a new Illinois Housing Development Authority project will cure the Williamsburg Apartments on South Jackson. It was supposed to be complete September 15th.
The roofs have been re-done, but they hold water like swimming pools. A resident told me he saw a neighbor climb the roof during a rainstorm so that he could make a gutter and keep water from pouring into his apartment below.
We spotted new vents that don’t fit and cable wiring running through gutters. A warped deck railing looks like it’s getting patched rather than replaced and underneath - deck supports don't appear to fit. There’s never been enough parking, so the government appears to be creating more spots. But some of the new spots are nearly impossible to pull into because of steep inclines.
We found plenty of residents with horror stories, but no one who would go on camera because they have to live here and they want to continue living here. They even have horror stories about the apartments that have been redone. One family moved in upstairs and days later a stair collapsed. The man had to be taken out by ambulance. Another resident reported a sewer back up that’s already wrecked another remodeled apartment.
The only person who would talk was this neighbor Pauline Boring. She said, "My hope for it now is that it improves a lot."
I asked, "If you broke it down per apartment that would be a $40,000 dollar rehab cost for one apartment."
She replied, "Oh my goodness, that’s a lot of money."
The total 3.5 million dollar package includes two other complexes -- another called Williamsburg on West Main in Belleville and one in Swansea. That brings the number of apartments to 88.
No one argues the need for affordable housing, especially in this economy. The questions surround whether the project on Jackson is the best use of money or even the best thing for those residents who live there. We are just beginning digging into this story.
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