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Judy Masterson: Have a heart, let the kids come

Thomas Delany Jr. Staff Photographer.
Judy Mastersresporter for The News Sun.

Thomas Delany Jr. Staff Photographer. Judy Masterson, resporter for The News Sun. 7/12/06

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Updated: January 29, 2011 2:36AM

Come on, Larry. Have a heart.

Larry TenPas is my 6th Ward alderman, and he and others on the Waukegan City Council are threatening to kick to the curb a proposal to use a foreclosed property at 222 S. Park Ave. as a foster-care home.

The proposal comes from a Chicago-based nonprofit, Renacer Westside Community Network Inc. TenPas worries that if approved, the 4th Ward property would house kids from outside Waukegan.

“They’ll import them from other communities,” TenPas warned at a council meeting last month. “You’re stuck, in the school system and everywhere else, with somebody else’s headaches. Let’s be honest. They’re kids in need, but that’s what happens.”

I tried to reach Renacer Executive Director Ed Lucas by phone Friday to invite him to consider one of two foreclosed properties on my street. My house sits between both two-story homes. Both used to have kids, kids who no doubt were somebody’s headaches.

Without good, stable, caring homes, kids can grow up to give much worse than headaches. Towns in Lake County that have government-subsidized housing have seen an influx of crime and poverty-related problems as Chicago has dismantled its ghettos and sent the poor packing. Closing the door to a foster home isn’t going to change that. What could change it is making sure that kids, no matter where they’re born, are raised well.

There’s a glut of cheap housing in Waukegan right now: 1,130 vacant homes, 80 percent of them foreclosures.

Is TenPas telling us that a vacant house, with all its attendant problems — vandalism and other criminal activity, lower property values, loss of revenue — is better than a healthy mortgage and a caring home?

Lake County is in dire need of good foster homes. Agencies are having trouble recruiting foster parents, so residential care must expand. The more children, wherever they’re from, who can be loved and cared for, the safer everybody’s town will be.

I like Renacer’s motto: “Like a circle, community never ends.”

If they come to my ward, I’m going to invite them over for milk and cookies. Larry, you are welcome, too

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