Rockford neighborhood sees increase in homelessness, homeowner r - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Rockford neighborhood sees increase in homelessness, homeowner reacts

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ROCKFORD (WREX) -

The number of people living on the streets in Rockford is dropping, according to city officials.

But there are some isolated pockets in town seeing something totally different.

Herminia Argumedo's lawn is freshly cut. Her bushes tightly trimmed. Her Montague Street yard is spotless.

But keeping the area around her house clean has recently become a challenge. 

"I clean on the sidewalk, I pick up all the garbage, I wear gloves because I don't know how dirty they are," Argumedo said.

In the past few years Argumedo said the number of homeless people hanging out in the vacant lot beside her home has become overwhelming.

"They do their bathrooms, they talk real ugly language, they drink a lot of beer and fight, argue, real loud, they get real loud," Argumedo said.

Rockford Alderman Venita Hervey said this kind of activity going on anywhere in town is an issue, but especially right down the street from a school.

"Every child has the right to walk to school and feel safe. Our children should not be afraid in our schools," Hervey said. "People should not be afraid to be in their homes because people are loitering and up to mischief."

The city said the reason for the recent uptick in homeless population in the neighborhood is construction along South Main Street.

"Some of the people that were living inside, maybe some of the old boarded up buildings, have been forced to leave the places where they have been staying due to the construction, so people can see them more easier," said Rockford Human Services Housing Advocate Angie Walker.

The city said its working to get the homeless off the street and in permanent housing. 

Since the start of this year the city said its placed more than a hundred people in homes.

"Ultimately, the only way to end homelessness is to give people homes and get them off the street so that's what we are focused on here," Walker said.

Argumedo isn't waiting. She's tightened security, arming the front and back of her home with cameras, keeping eyes on her property when she can't be there to clean house herself.

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