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Affordable rental housing continues to be "out of reach" for minimum wage workers

CHAMPAIGN — As rents continue to rise, wages continue to fall, according to a report released Wednesday by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

The report – Out of Reach 2010 – found that a family in the United States needs to earn $18.44 an hour, or nearly $38,360 a year.

CU-Citizen Access

Safe Haven members look to trade work for shelter

CHAMPAIGN — A group of local homeless people will again be seeking shelter.

Abby Harmon, a graduate instructor at the University of Illinois and member of the Safe Haven board of advisers, said a small, “really core” group of Safe Haven members hopes to find property owners and managers who will accept “sweat equity” in trade for shelter beginning next month.

The News-Gazette/ Abby Harmon of Safe Haven talks at the cookout for neighbors and city council members at the Safe Haven tent city in the backyard of the Catholic Worker house in Champaign on Saturday, July 25, 2009.

Affordable-housing program to emphasize rent assistance

URBANA — A local program to promote affordable housing for low-income households will have greater emphasis on rental assistance for the coming year.

John Schneider, community development grants manager for Urbana, said many comments during a series of hearings and Urbana neighborhood meetings reflected a need for help with rent costs.


Extras: Seeking 'Safe Haven'

The Safe Haven community began late in the spring of 2009 when a small group of homeless people began pitching tents in a backyard near the Catholic Worker House in Champaign.

The organizers were seeking a sense of safety and community in a group, supporters said.

The News-Gazette

Landlords face charges about overflow of raw sewage at apartment complex


A Champaign County landlord convicted Wednesday of renting a condemned apartment was in court again Thursday on charges that raw sewage is overflowing at his apartment complex near Rantoul.

Bernard Ramos, 36, was found guilty Wednesday in a bench trial of criminal housing management for renting an apartment with numerous health and safety hazards at 709 W. Church St., C.

On Thursday, Bernard Ramos, and his father, Eduardo Ramos, appeared to answer charges that a septic system is leaking sewage at Cherry Orchard Village apartments, located on U.S. 45, just south of the Rantoul city limits.

Shelley Smithson/ A car sits next to an apartment at Cherry Orchard Apartments outside of Rantoul.

Champaign County is home to tens of thousands of renters

CHAMPAIGN -- Rental property is big business in Champaign County.

With nearly 35,300 units, Champaign County has the highest percentage of occupied rental housing units among the state’s metropolitan counties, according to 2008 Census Bureau estimates.

The News-Gazette/Clay Baier, housing inspector for the city of Urbana, prepares to inspect a single-family home in Urbana on Nov. 30, 2009 prior to a new tenant moving in.

Housing resources scarce, especially for families in need

CHAMPAIGN – If you have a family, little or no money saved and the place you rent has been condemned, you may be out of luck even though local officials and social service providers are working to come up with plans to help people who need emergency housing.

“The bottom line across the board is money, money, money,” said John Sullivan, chairman of the Council of Service Providers for the Homeless. “The resources for emergency (housing) are very limited, especially if you are an intact family; you have no place to go.”

The lack of emergency housing became obvious last spring with two large-scale condemnations that displaced scores of low-income residents.

The News-Gazette/ Clay Baier, housing inspector for the city of Urbana, inspects a single-family home in Urbana on Monday, Nov. 30, 2009. He was inspecting the home prior to a new tenant moving in.

One family's long housing journey

CHAMPAIGN -- Jon Jones and Isela Guerra moved to Champaign from Texas in November 2007 for a construction job Jones was certain he had. But the job fell through, and Jones couldn’t find any other work.

The couple spent that Christmas on the streets and lived homeless over the next few months sleeping by day in local libraries and spending the nights trying to stay warm.

“We have no family here,” Jones said.

In February 2008, Jones and Guerra found a place to live, along with a roommate to split expenses. When the roommate didn’t pay his share of the rent, they were evicted.

Shelley Smithson/Jon Jones and his son in their apartment at 209 W. Green St. Jones and his family continued to live here even after city inspectors condemned the apartment because they had no place to go.

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