Ill. Neighborhood headed downward with abandoned houses

Belleville News-DemocratSeptember 22, 2010 

Life is not the same on Winslow Road.

At least three houses on this quiet street just outside Belleville are vacant, casualties of foreclosure, unpaid property taxes or a sour economy. Weeds are overgrown, and the structures attract vandals, neighbors say, leaving those who remain to cope with declining property values and an unsafe environment for them and their children.

"It was always a pretty decent neighborhood," said Shirley Meyer, who has lived on the street near Memorial Hospital since 1977. "Then all of the sudden, it just went down."

The 63-year-old can see one of these abandoned properties every time she looks out her living room window. Across the street and atop a small bluff sits a two-story house with a yard overgrown by grass and weeds. Vines have attached and are growing along the side of the house. A screen door on the side of the house hangs by a hinge. Weeds have grown along and through the uphill driveway.

From outside her home, especially after it rains, Meyer said she can smell mold from water that she suspects has been leaking into the derelict home's basement.

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