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ABC 7 Chicago Weekend Watch

August 7, 2021 @ 8:30 am

Tune in to ABC-7 Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m. to catch the latest Weekend Watch segment where we focus a spotlight on government. Investigative Reporter Madison Hopkins will discuss our follow-up from our April investigation we published with the Chicago Tribune that found Chicago city officials allowed dangerous conditions to go unfixed at dozens of buildings that later became the sites of fatal fires.

Investigative Reporters Madison Hopkins and Cecilia decided to look at what other cities have done to make their residents safer from fires and found nine things that could serve as potential solutions to many of Chicago’s problems.Talking points:
Many of the strategies are pretty basic according to housing code experts we interviewed. For example, half of the top 20 largest cities in the country require landlords to register or receive a license from the government. This gives city officials access to fundamental information like how many rental units are in a city and who owns them, which allows them to make better decisions. Chicago used to require something like this but threw out the rule in 2017.

Other steps cities have taken to strengthen their building code enforcement include: starting tenant advocate offices within the city government; offering tenants the ability to sue their landlords for repairs in a special speedy court; and inspecting all rental buildings on a routine basis rather than waiting for complaints to trigger inspections like we do in Chicago.

Next steps: In response to our initial investigation, Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration accepted no blame, pointing out that most of the fires occurred under her predecessor. She also said her administration is working on reviving a long-abandoned list of chronically deficient landlords to be released to the public, but we haven’t heard many more details on that yet. Meanwhile, Ald. Villegas introduced a resolution last month calling for hearings on how the DOB responds to tenant complaints, citing our investigation. We’re keeping an eye on that and any other moves for reforms.


August 7, 2021
8:30 am