NIU absent from city meeting



By Jessi Haish

A discussion of safe and quality housing issues was open for public input Wednesday night at a special meeting of the DeKalb City Council.

These issues include a crime-free lease addendum requirement, chronic nuisance ordinance enforcement, licensing and registration ordinances and rental property inspection. Aldermen and city officials have been weighing in on the housing issues since June. Landlords, homeowners and tenants were given the opportunity to weigh in at this meeting. However, there was no one present to speak on behalf of the university.

“I am surprised that NIU has not sent any representatives,” said Mayor Kris Povlsen. “That’s a problem.”

Povlsen said NIU President John Peters had a representative contact Povlsen; the representative said Peters did not want NIU involved in this issue. Povlsen was looking for NIU’s opinion on the safe and quality housing issues and “they chose to not get involved,” Povlsen said.

While homeowners were in attendance, the issue came down to landlord rights over tenant crime and eviction.

“I don’t think we need to micromanage someone’s property, but focus on crime issues,” Seventh Ward Alderwoman Monica O’Leary said.

The Crime Free Lease Addendum would allow landlords the ability to evict tenants if they are engaged in illegal activities. Dan McClure, realtor at Century 21 Elsner Realty in DeKalb, suggested streamlining the eviction process, which currently takes about three to six months.

“Landlords need a little help, but not cracking down on everybody,” McClure said.

He also suggested stricter background checks and credit checks on tenants to help cut down on potential crime in DeKalb, cutting down on future problems. Clay Campbell, DeKalb County state’s attorney, also expressed support of the ordinance.

“If we do not get a handle on the crime, the property values are going to fall,” Campbell said. “We have some serious issues going on in this town. We have to make this place attractive to investors and unattractive to people who want to sell drugs.”

The city council agreed that the city, residents and university need to work together to solve housing issues. NIU’s lack of representation at the meeting drew attention throughout the discussion.

“Are we a university with a city or a city with a university?” said Fourth Ward Alderman Brendon Gallagher.

The safe and quality housing issues will continue to be discussed at the next city council meeting Monday.

“We need to move forward and make this community a safer community,” Povlsen said.