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Belleville City Council Approves Crime-Free Housing Ordinance

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A photo of Belleville, Illinois City Hall.

A photo of Belleville, Illinois City Hall.

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BELLEVILLE, Ill. (KMOX) - The Belleville City Council passed a crime-free housing ordinance Monday night by a 13-3 vote.

In an effort to reduce crime in the city, the ordinance requires landlords to evict tenants with several misdemeanor offenses committed on the premise.

Monday’s vote comes after two years of discussions on the ordinance. Similar measures have been enacted in neighboring cities.

Before the vote, residents were allowed to weigh in on the proposal. One resident argued that the ordinance will divide the city on the basis of race.

“That’s what this ordinance does: it targets blacks,” the man said. “Just like when ’60 Minutes’ was here three times before about Belleville never having a black employee, ever, until the early 1990s.”

Representatives for the Greater Belleville Chamber of Commerce spoke in favor of the plan.

“The Chamber supports the intent of the ordinance. It is designed to promote and maintain the quality of life of the residents in the great city of Belleville,” a representative testified.

A point of contention for some of the council members is a $25 annual fee charged to landlords for each rental unit they own. Revenue collected from the fee will pay for the paperwork and other costs associated with running the program but some members said Monday that it placed an unfair burden on landlords.

Landlords must also enroll in a training class on the program before Nov. 1.

The council’s three “no” votes came from Ward 2 Alderwoman Melinda Hult, Ward 7 Alderman Trent Galetti, and Alderwoman-at-Large Lillian Schneider.

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