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Local Columnists

TURNER The tenants are the ones who are going to pay

The July 14 newspaper had an editorial titled "Streator has right to focus on improving rental properties." I hope the council checks with the homeless shelters to see how many homeless people there are in La Salle County and how many families with children under age 18. All because they can't afford a place to live.

Now if they get government subsidies, the government (HUD) does a home inspection once a year, better known as Section 8 housing. Why would the city have to inspect them if HUD inspects them once a year?

Also, a lot of families are one paycheck away from living on the streets. They can't afford another $20 a month for rent, or whatever it be may be. A lot of them are on fixed incomes. The landlord will pass on the city's inspection costs.

In the editorial, the city says people are walking away from properties they can't afford to fix up. People don't have the money. That's why the town is so depressed, and it's all over Illinois. Now working men have to pay higher rent and higher Illinois income taxes. They have to hire licensed contractors because they can't have the neighborhood kids do it. The city service shoots itself in the foot. Although all the board members have a good heart and are trying their best to do what's right, once again, I hope they check.

There's no money in being a landlord, I don't care what the info commercials say. I know from the book (school of hard knocks) so I know what it's all about. A landlord doesn't get owner-occupied on their taxes so they pay more taxes. They usually have a mortgage on the rental property. They also have to pay insurance and state and federal taxes on what they make. And don't forget Illinois taxes are going up, another thing to be passed on to the tenets. There's a very little bit left at the end of the year.

Working men can only afford one-fourth of his salary for rent expenses. You have to remember not only rent, but there's Obamacare that he's forced into paying, car insurance, license plates, gas and, oh yeah, let's not forget food and higher income taxes right out of his check. That's why there are so many food pantries. People don't have the money. They cannot afford anything that makes the rent go up. The council is going to make a lot of people homeless.

The renters should show up at that meeting (a future meeting with no date set) and have a say. The renters should start calling City Hall and tell them. Rent is out of control. A lot of times, you see it in the paper, no address given. Although their hearts are in the right place, inspections are the wrong thing to do. Maybe they should encourage landlords to fix their property instead of punishing them by making them use licensed contractors.

Streator employees are to drive around looking for code violations. That's something you would expect in a foreign country, not the United States of America. It's one thing if your neighbor calls on you, it's a whole other thing when I drive around looking for code violations. That is just wrong.

That's part of the reason why property values are so depressed. Who wants to live in a city that dictates what you can and cannot do, let alone that the government can inspect property. If they want to inspect the property, they should own the property or pay rent on the property, like HUD. A tenant should not invite anybody on the property they don't own if they think there's a serious code violation.

And then you have to remember there are professional deadbeat tenants. I sure would like to know when the meeting is. Once again, it is more important to the tenants than the landlords, because the tenants are the ones who are going to pay for inspections. How much more can the working man afford? Taxes are going up in Illinois and with this inspection, rent might go up $50 a month. Who knows?

I remember reading something in the newspaper about how the city wanted to build houses and get into the real estate business. People, please call City Hall and let them know where you stand on this. They will do the right thing if people call. Please remember we vote these people in office and we can vote them out.

Also, I would like you to remember, there are somewhere around 450 million man-made laws and only Ten Commandments or Golden Rules, whichever you prefer.

• JIM TURNER lives in Streator.

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