Slide 1

When Stephen Henry moved back to Roseland in 2009 to pastor the church he’d grown up attending, one of the first things he did was size up the neighborhood. “The neighborhood wasn’t so neighborly anymore,” said the 46-year-old. “It was just the ‘hood.”

Slide 2

A vacant lot sat to the left of Mary Magdalene Missionary Baptist Church. Across the street were two crumbling homes covered with thin plywood. Down the block was a stretch of boarded-up homes. Police had recently found a woman dead in one of them.

Chicago taxpayers have spent $754,042 since 2008 boarding up and demolishing 61 homes in the roughly five square block around the church, according to an analysis by the Chicago Reporter. Overall, Chicago taxpayers have spent $31.6 million to remediate vacant properties since 2008.

But no corner of the city has been as costly as the 34th ward, which includes Roseland.

Slide 4

A vast majority,75 percent, of homes in the immediate neighborhood around Henry’s church were knocked down in the past 18 months. The area is roughly bounded by Wentworth Avenue to the west, State Street to the east and 105th and 111th places to the north and south. Each home that was razed cost taxpayers an average of $19,546, the analysis found.

The financial burden of demolishing properties across the city has increased sharply since 2010, particularly in communities hit hardest by the foreclosure crisis, the analysis found. Roughly 63 percent of that spending occurred since 2010. It’s unclear how much the city has been able to recoup from property owners.

Slide 6

For every $10 the city has spent boarding up or tearing down a house, more than $1 went to cover the costs of securing or clearing structures from 264 properties in Alderman Carrie Austin’s 34th Ward on the Far South Side. That amounts to roughly 10 percent of all properties that demolition and board-up crews have worked on across the city during that time. “What do you want me to do, leave them for a safety hazard for more rapes, more drug dealing, more crime?” Austin said. “There’s nobody stepping up in my ward to rehab these properties.”

Slide 7

“Until people start seeing value in the neighborhood," Henry said, "attracting new homeowners will be a tough sell."