DeKalb Moving Forward With Safe Housing Program Despite Fee Objections
The city of DeKalb continues to set up a new safe housing program. The effort is aimed at reducing blight and crime in the community. However, local landlords are voicing frustration over how the effort will be funded.
City officials are beginning to hire staff members for the Housing Registration and Inspection Bureau. Members of the bureau will be trained to inspect rental properties from a sidewalk's distance, and enforce various ordinances.
City Council member Ron Naylor says the goal is simple.
"It is to pursue a safer and a more quality housing availability" Naylor said.
City officials say rental properties left unattended can lead to bad tenants, which opens to door to criminal activity.
But many landlords say they shouldn’t be lumped in with those who let their properties fall into a state of disrepair.
A key issue is a yearly registration fee, which is designed to cover a majority of the program’s costs. Landlords will have to pay $50 dollars per building, plus an extra $15 dollars per unit for buildings with three or more units.
Will Heinisch heads the DeKalb Area Rental Association. He says it might not seem like a lot of money, but he fears the added costs will be passed on to tenants.
"I guess one of the issues here is principal. It's like double taxation" Heinisch said.
Heinisch notes that most of his tenants are already on tight budgets. City officials say the planned fee is smaller than other college towns. They also say because many of the safe housing issues they see stem from rental properties, it’s only fair that these property owners contribute to the cost of the effort.