The East Chicago Building Department has been clearing the way to a safer city.

The East Chicago Building Department has been clearing the way to a safer city.

The mission of the East Chicago Building Department is to abate blighted, vacant and abandoned structures and promote and maintain a safe and desirable living environment, in efforts to improve property values and enhance the quality of life for all residents of the City.

Mayor Anthony Copeland recognizes the importance of removing abandoned and unsafe properties from the neighborhood. Mayor Copeland states, “Unmaintained properties are a threat to surrounding home values and public safety. Often they are structurally unsound, vacated havens for criminal activity and a risk for first responders.”

Some structures contain contaminants such as; asbestos insulation, asbestos floor and ceiling tile, lead-based paint as well as biological hazards, industrial waste, oil, (PCBs) or chemicals. These are a few of the reasons why our city is being proactive in removing abandoned structures safely.

Winna Guzman, Building Commissioner states, “As Building Commissioner for the past two years and a resident of East Chicago, I am very excited to be part of carrying out the Mayor’s vision and moving forward with the demolition of the many blighted, vacant and abandoned structures throughout our City.   
In continuing our vigorous enforcement, the City is creating a safer and a more desirable living environment, while improving property values and enhancing the quality of life for all residents of the City.”

There are approximately 400 abandoned properties identified throughout East Chicago. Removing properties takes time, resources and money. Mayor Copeland has led the charge by bringing the teamwork of the Building Department, city resources and funding from the Redevelopment Department together to make this achievable. There are many challenges to removing these properties but they are not insurmountable. Currently there are 40+ unsafe buildings set for demolition this year, and anticipate additional properties added as funding becomes available.

Maria C. Becerra, Executive Director of Redevelopment states, “We would like to invite everyone to take a drive down Broadway Street in the Harbor. We want you to witness the impact of the demolitions in progress and ongoing within the North Harbor Community. This compliments the new construction of townhomes and the new senior building, scheduled to open in February of 2013. The City envisions this as the new gateway to the Lakefront.”

The city has established an Unsafe Building Fund whereby monies received (i.e. fees collected from annual rental registrations, special assessment liens and/or other appropriations) shall be deposited into this fund. These monies shall be designated and used for the expenses incurred in carrying out the purposes of the Unsafe Building Law.

Rental Registration have significantly grown due to the diligence of the Building Department. This registration information assists the City to be more efficient in its Fire, Health and Building Code Enforcement endeavors to protect the health, safety and general welfare of the citizens of East Chicago. Often the information is shared with first responders to help residents or when a board up is needed.

2013 Registration is open and received Monday through Friday between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 3:00p.m.
Registration forms and requirements are available at the Building Department’s office or on the City’s website at

Normal hours of operation are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 4444 Railroad Avenue, East Chicago, IN 46312.

For more info, please contact the East Chicago Building Department at (219) 391-8294.