As State Representative for Forest Park and much of the surrounding area, addressing the problem of vacant home is one of my top priorities [Empty homes stand out, April 4].

I have taken much of the language of House Bill 1109, and its spirit of accountability, and included it in Senate Bill 16, which is now awaiting debate before the full House of Representatives.

Senate Bill 16 allows municipalities to adopt ordinances for the security and maintenance of vacant properties, specifically to require mortgage lenders to be responsible for upkeep when homes are abandoned, or else face heavy fines. In cases in where the home is clearly abandoned by the owner, the legislation also creates a fast-track foreclosure process that will hopefully put the home under new ownership as quickly as possible.

This legislation will take the burden of managing abandoned homes away from municipalities and the taxpayers. Municipal budgets are already stretched far enough, and unlike the big banks and other lenders, they have not received government bailouts.

At times like these, when ‘private” lenders are more beholden than ever to taxpayers, it is important that they take responsibility.

I look forward to passing this legislation and allowing municipal governments to focus on the issues we elected them to address.

Karen Yarbrough
District 7
House Assistant Majority Leader