Tag Archives: living


Fifty years ago, subdivisions were sprouting in the cornfields and bean fields in Illinois. The 1960’s and 1970’s were a time of rapid growth in the housing stock at the edges of major metropolitan areas such as Aurora, Rockford, and Bloomington-Normal.

Ranch houses, tri-levels, and two-story homes were popular styles. Most had attached garages, and the backyards were often enclosed with chain link fences. The homeowners planted shade trees on the boulevard and in the backyard. They spent time and money mowing, watering, and fertilizing the grass. They took pride in ownership of a beautiful new home.

Margaret, her husband, and their four children lived in one of these new houses. She was a stay-at-home mom, and her children were allowed to be free range children. That meant they roller skated on the sidewalks, shot basketballs into hoops mounted on rooftops above the garages, and played baseball on the diamond at the elementary school. The boys on the street made a go-cart out of wood and an old lawnmower chassis and gave rides to the younger boys.

AND THERE WERE THE DIRT HILLS. Since this was a new subdivision, the last row of houses backed up to a large piece of vacant land. The builder had dug a retention pond, installed concrete sewer pipes, and piled up a huge mound of dirt next to the retention pond. Many a young boy rode his dirt bike down from the top of the mound of dirt. In fact, some became so skilled that they could ride at full speed down the dirt hill and land on a raft in the lake.

The children grew up, got married, and moved away. Margaret and her husband continued to live in the house. When Margaret was in her late seventies, her health began to fail. She could no longer climb the steps into the house so her husband built a ramp in the garage.

As Margaret’s illness progressed, she needed 24/7 care from CNAs who came to her home. This was a tremendous help to Margaret and to her husband. It allowed her to continue to stay in her own home for a period of time. Later, she was admitted to a hospital and died there at age eighty-one.

If you have a family member who needs private duty nursing, call American Home Health at (630) 236-3501. The agency can provide round-the-clock nursing care by Registered Nurses and (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). Our service area covers fifteen counties in Northern Illinois including Cook, Lake, McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, LaSalle, Grundy, Will, and Kankakee. American Home Health is licensed by the State of Illinois and accredited by the Joint Commission. For further information, go to www.ahhc-1.com, or call (630) 236-3501.

To hear the Beatles, the English rock band, sing “With A Little Help From My Friends” from their 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, go to With A Little Help From My Friends—You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0C58ttB2-Qg.

—By Karen Centowski


Imagine someone illegally living in a vacant house in your neighborhood. Worse yet, what if the squatter trashed the house, ripped out the copper pipes, left rotted food in the refrigerator, made holes in the walls, and broke the toilet into pieces?

According to “Serial squatter trashes Chicago-area homes with few consequences,” an article at https://wgntv.com/2018/08/06/serial-squatter-trashes-chicago-area-homes-with-few-consequences/, “Through open records requests, WGN Investigates discovered squatting is a common occurrence, especially in places like Lansing, Calumet City, and Dolton. In Calumet City, there have already been 20 documented cases of squatting this year.”

High-end property is not immune to squatters. A woman recently lived in a vacant, foreclosed $1.5 million home in Wicker Park for two years before she was finally removed by court order. The newly built home had five bedrooms, five baths, an in-home theater, a sauna, and a rooftop deck. In 2011, the builder lost the property in foreclosure. In 2013, MB Financial finally managed to get the squatter out of the residence.

How do the squatters find these empty houses? Sometimes, the squatter simply sees a realtor’s For Sale sign on the lawn. Then the squatter just moves into the property. In other cases, the squatter pays one month’s rent, moves in, and waits to be evicted. It can take months to formally evict the squatter. Meanwhile, the squatter has the opportunity to trash the place.

In the article at https://wgntv.com/2018/08/06/serial-squatter-trashes-chicago-area-homes-with-few-consequences/, Tromaine Langham, a former landlord, described the damage a squatter had done to his property: “The conditions when I got there were just deplorable,” Langham remembers. “I walked in and there was broken glass, broken windows, closet doors, bedroom doors smashed. Maggots were just all over the kitchen and in the stove area. I had to totally gut (it) and get that replaced.” All in all, he said, it was $52,000 worth of damage.

Squatters seem to feel no remorse for the damage they have done. A squatter in Dolton posted videos and photos to her Facebook page, bragging about her “new homes.” She also left a framed selfie in the bedroom of one of the homes she had trashed. A few weeks after she was formally evicted, she came back to the house, kicked in the door, and broke all the windows.

By Karen Centowski

To see a Channel 23 ABC News video called Woman catches squatters moving into her home—You Tube, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deIjxerh3s4.