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South Side Block Plagued By Problem Properties Despite 311 Complaints

CHICAGO (CBS) -- When it comes to abandoned buildings, the 7100 block of South Champlain Avenue in the Park Manor community is about as bad as it gets – racking up more 311 complaints for abandoned properties than any other in the city over the past year and a half.

But the neighbors say despite their complaints, the block is still in shambles. CBS 2 Morning Insider Tim McNicholas looked into what is being done.

"They just trash everything and just leave it there," said Clifola Coleman.

The house she is talking about was in disrepair, is surrounded by empty beer cans, and has a dirty mattress next to the porch.

"That causes rats raccoons, the cats, the squirrels – everything," Coleman said.

The house is located at 7110 S. Champlain Ave. – directly behind Coleman's house.

"People coming through throwing out garbage; squatters coming into the buildings, and you never know who's in the alley," Coleman said.

That house is just one of six boarded-up houses on the block. And that's not even counting the empty lots with trash, overgrown grass, and unkempt trees.

"Since about 2009 this has been going on. We don't know what else to do. That's all we can do is call 311 and report it to the alderman's office; send emails to the City of Chicago," Coleman said.

In the past year and a half, the 7100 block of South Champlain Avenue alone has racked up at least 15 311 complaints for abandoned buildings.

Meanwhile, Coleman and her neighbors said they also hear gunshots on or near the block about once a week. She said the abandoned homes are only encouraging criminals.

"If there were people there who cared about their homes; who cared about the property, who cared about the neighborhood, that's what we need," Coleman said.

The city said they are working with property owners trying to get the problems fixed.

The house at 7110 S. Champlain Avenue is owned by BMO Harris Bank, which took it over in August 2018 after a foreclosure. A few weeks later, the city cited BMO Harris for failure to register the vacant building.

Inspectors then found 10 more code violations, including a damaged or missing gutter.

"I want it clean in my neighborhood," Coleman said. "And it looks bad with the mattresses, the boxes, and all of this kind of stuff."

The bank said they fixed the violations and hired a property manager to maintain the house. But when we showed up, the dirty mattress was still there, along with a broken gutter.

CBS 2 reached out to BMO Harris about the issues and checked back a couple days later, and the trash and mattress were gone.

"After you talked to the bank, they sent somebody out here," Coleman said.

Now, we have learned the bank is trying to sell 7110.

"I'm hoping that they will sell it; you know, they'll sell it, somebody will move in it and fix it up, and we'll have some good neighbors," Coleman said.

The city said demolition is typically a last resort. A representative said it is ultimately up to the owners to maintain properties.

But what about when the city is the owner? That's also the case for a vacant lot on the 7100 block of South Champlain Avenue – more on that here.

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