Woman questions home repairs paid for with Chicago TIF funds

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CHICAGO -- Most of us have heard of TIF funds before. In fact, right now the concept has been getting a lot of attention. Several alderman want that money to be used to close the CPS budget hole.

Those tax dollars though are supposed to be used to help improve and invest in blighted communities.

The woman you’re about to meet says the program, at least for her, didn’t work the way she’d like.

Nona Cameron has lived in her 100-year-old house for almost 19 years. It's cute, but there's a lot to fix.

All of it led her to send WGN a 10-page letter and a copy of her complaint mailed to Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office.

"But now this, it’s buckling, I’ve never had that problem before," she said.

Nona is questioning the West Woodlawn TIF Neighborhood Improvement Program. In late 2013, they awarded her a $12,000 grant to fix her roof. She used the contractor they suggested and it all looked great.

"They worked diligently, the neighbors couldn’t believe it. I was on my way to work and they were still out there working," she said.

Fast forward to today. She blames the problems she’s having -- the moisture, the ceiling bubbling and cracking -- on that roof work. And according to her, she can’t get any answers from either her alderman, the agency that approved the grant or the contractor, which is why she came to WGN.

"I think the program needs to be overseen a little bit more intensely," she said. "At a time when everything is short, money is short for the city, the state, and to be spending money and people are still not getting what they were promised. To me, it’s a travesty."

So WGN went looking for her alderman and the neighborhood housing service which handles the program to try and find where the disconnect happened. And here’s what we got, over and over again:

"This is the first we’ve been made aware of this issue," said Darris Shaw, Neighborhood Housing Service.

"I have not been given this information the way it should’ve been," said. Ald. Willie B. Cochran, 20th Ward.

As far as the contractor, he did know about it but says his roof work isn’t the problem. He blames it on the age of the house, not his work, which is why nothing else was done. In a statement sent to the Attorney General’s office, after WGN started looking into the story, Pacific Construction said: "We are willing to work with Ms. Cameron on any roofing issues she may have if it is a result of our workmanship.”

"We are willing to go back and assist her, that’s not an issue for us," Shaw said. "I don’t think this is an issue that we’ve never dealt with before."

Nona says she’s finally getting some attention for the 100-year-old house she’s trying to maintain.

"That’s all I’m asking, just do it right," she said.

The Neighborhood Housing Service did send someone out there this week. They’re planning to go out again and see what’s causing the problem. NHS says it has had issues with contractors in the past but they have always been resolved.

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