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Report for America is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms to report on under-covered issues and communities. This year's cohort has been placed with more than 160 local news organizations across 45 states and Puerto Rico, including two journalists right here at WNIJ. We are thrilled to announce the addition of JuanPablo Ramirez-Franco to our news team, and a new role for WNIJ reporter Yvonne Boose.Yvonne Boose covers artistic, cultural, and spiritual expressions in the COVID-19 era. This includes how members of community cultural groups are finding creative and innovative ways to enrich their personal lives through these expressions individually and within the context of their larger communities.Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco covers substandard housing and police-community relations. An audio producer and journalist based out of Chicago, he’s also been a bilingual facilitator at the StoryCorps office.He will continue Sarah Jesmer’s award-winning work at WNIJ covering issues of social justice and identity. Jesmer earned a top award from the Illinois Associated Press for reports including: Inside DeKalb County's Unincorporated Apartments; Wigs, Lipstick & Sparkles: The Thriving Drag Scene In Northern Illinois; and Kish College: Anonymous Letters And A Controversial Investigation.These reporting positions come at a time when local journalism is already reeling from years of newsroom cuts and unforeseen challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.Both positions are partially funded by a grant from Report for America. WNIJ must raise an additional $30,000 in local matching funds. Support these important voices in our community by donating to WNIJ’s portion here.Yvonne and Juanpablo’s stories on our community will be collected below.

City Requires Hunter Properties to Sell Apartment Buildings

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Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco
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Yolanda Arrington Comments on Living Conditions at Hunter Properties

The DeKalb City Council on Monday voted unanimously on a settlement to require Hunter Properties to sell some of its holdings.

 

 

The DeKalb City Council delivered an agreement requiring the controversial landlord to sell four of its apartment buildings. City Manager Bill Nicklas said that the only solution to years of Hunter’s scores of violations and unpaid fines is a change in ownership.

 

“We truly believe that until there is a sale of these properties that these issues are going to continue," said Nicklas, "and continue in the same regular pattern that they have for three years.”

 

Hunter’s mandated divestment requires that the property owner retain a third party real estate broker to list the properties. Hunter must also place $150,000 in escrow for each of the properties, and must turnover a portion of the money for each property that fails to sell within the 42 month time period. 

 

According to the settlement, the City of Dekalb remains fully within its right to continue enforcing city code on all Hunter properties. 

 

In the meantime Hunter is asked to begin making improvements to the properties suggested by the city’s building, fire and police departments.

 

 

  • Juanpablo Ramirez-Franco is a current corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project which is a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms.

 

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