WGN Investigates: Can you believe someone lives in this house?

Carl Shelley said to WGN when we arrived at his home to ask about numerous complaints about its condition, “I’d appreciate any help, buddy.”

Post-recession, many homeowners are still struggling, really struggling. In some cases, their house is falling down.

WGN Investigates got a tip about Mr. Shelley’s South Side home. Though right next to a beautiful church and the very busy Roseland Hospital, the house had fallen into the disrepair of a 3rd world country.

Mr. Shelley couldn’t help it. He’s a 72-year-old veteran living only on Social Security. He can’t afford to fix it. No matter that the back sunroom deck was hanging dangerously off the rest of the house and into power lines. His front stoop is crumbling and shifting under each step.

So what’s he to do if the rest of his house is livable? Can the city evict him? Can they force him to fix it? If not, then what?

Judy Fryland is a city attorney who works with housing court in Chicago’s bustling Daley Center. She told WGN it depends on each circumstance.

In Mr. Shelley’s case, WGN got an anonymous letter upset that the back porch was tumbling down. Someone even complained to 311. Sure, his case is like hundreds in housing court. But when WGN got involved, the city rushed his case to court. Even giving him a ride from his home on 111th to the Daley Center.

When Mr Shelley stood before the judge, a plan was already in place for him. The city’s going to hire a contractor to estimate repairs. Fix his home letting him live there for the rest of his life. At first, taxpayers will be on the hook for all this, but when the property is sold, the city gets its money back.It’s kind of like a taxpayer sponsored reverse mortgage.

Mr Shelley told WGN he’s grateful for the help. He’ll be back in court July 8th when the cost estimates to fix his long time duplex are presented before the same judge for approval.

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