BRADLEY — Bradley Mayor Mike Watson’s to-do list never runs out of items, and the last goal on the list is to improve housing, whether owner-occupied or rental.
While the tools are still being worked on – i.e. ordinances to put teeth in place to help the village push for these upgrades – the mayor said the time for this update to the point was long gone.
“Bradley has invested in Bradley,” he said of the action the village council is taking to encourage the development and improvement of businesses and retail businesses along the community’s main thoroughfares.
“It’s time for owners to step up their investments,” he said. “And we’re not just talking about rental property, but also about home ownership.”
According to 2020 US Census estimates, 66% of Bradley’s homes are owner-occupied, which is 2 percentage points higher than the US rate of 64%.
Official 2020 U.S. Census results for housing are expected to be released in May.
News of tougher housing standards enforcement follows the village’s crackdown on overdue sewer accounts.
The village also recently approved plans for the redevelopment of large areas of Illinois 50 and West Broadway Street, areas where millions are expected to be spent.
Watson said the first new or revised ordinances are unlikely to be submitted to the full village council for at least three months.
“We are now focusing on property maintenance. We have to do it both ways,” he said referring to rental as well as owner occupancy. “We just can’t target landlords.”
The mayor noted that the recently adopted property tax rebate program – a program in which village landowners receive a return on the entire village share of property taxes – can be used by property owners to help make the necessary repairs.
“We expect them to reinvest in their properties,” he said.
“If we do our part as leadership, then [residents and property owners] have an obligation to spend part of it on maintaining the property,” he explained.
Similar to many older communities, Bradley has areas where new housing has grown where corn and soybean fields once stood. But, the village also has many older sections that were built when housing standards were not emphasized as they are now.
But even so, Watson said the construction of new homes will be accompanied by increased standards – mainly with more maintenance-free type requirements – so that properties remain attractive and of higher quality for an extended period.
The mayor said it was an initiative he wanted to pursue even before becoming mayor.
“I believe there are a lot of residents who want improved standards,” he said. “I also know that there are residents who may not appreciate this. But the village is investing in Bradley, and I think people will follow that.