State Announces Blight Elimination Grant Recipients

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Five communities have been selected to receive a total of $4 million from the Indiana Hardest Hit Fund Blight Elimination Program. The cities and towns are in Madison, Vanderburgh, Delaware and Vigo counties. December 19, 2014

News Release

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann announced that five municipalities received Indiana Hardest Hit Fund Blight Elimination Program (BEP) awards in a second round of funding. The combined awards total approximately $4 million in BEP funding to help eliminate blighted and abandoned homes in those communities.

Cities receiving awards include:

-Anderson (Madison County)- $1.28M

-Evansville (Vanderburgh County)- $677,000

-Muncie (Delaware County)- $1.1M

-Terre Haute (Vigo County)- $897,000

Town receiving award:

-Daleville (Delaware County)- $43,000

The Blight Elimination Program provides an opportunity for local units of government in all 92 Indiana counties to compete for funding to eliminate blighted, vacant and abandoned homes in an effort to decrease foreclosures. The program has made a total of $75 million available for blight elimination throughout Indiana.

"The Blight Elimination Program continues to provide a valuable resource to communities large and small that have struggled to address abandoned homes," said Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann, who chairs the IHCDA board. "The additional round of funding allows for further progress to take place in these communities as they are able to transform blighted homes into functional, revitalized spaces that will once again contribute to the local economy."

"This partnership demonstrates a commitment to revitalizing our cities and to addressing the damaging effects caused by vacant and blighted properties," said U.S. Treasury Deputy Secretary Sarah Bloom Raskin. "Removing blighted properties is an important step in stabilizing neighborhoods, and we look forward to continuing our efforts to assist hardest hit communities around the nation.”

In the first round of Division Three funding, nearly $10.8 million was awarded; Alexandria received $355,000, Anderson received $1.4 million, Elwood received $625,000, Coatesville received $15,000, Evansville received $1.7 million, Muncie received $2.9 million, Terre Haute received $650,00, Elkhart County received $2.7 million and Vigo County received $425,000.

Anderson was awarded nearly $1.3 million to demolish, green and maintain 59 blighted residential properties. Anderson’s selected properties will complement existing investment or redevelopment plans, allowing the city to build upon projects already underway.

Daleville received an award of $43,000 to address two blighted structures in the town and believes that the demolition, greening and maintenance of the two properties will positively impact public safety.

An award of $677,000 was allocated to Evansville to acquire, demolish and facilitate an end use of 31 blighted structures. Evansville has worked with community leaders and residents to locate properties suitable for the BEP, selecting properties in multiple neighborhoods, including the Jacobsville, Star, Old Erie, Ballard, Bellemeade Bayard Park, Tepe Park and Goosetown neighborhoods.

Muncie’s BEP project will address 54 blighted structures in 16 neighborhoods with its allocation of more than $1.1 million. Muncie’s selected properties are located in the Industry, Southside and Thomas Park/Avondale neighborhoods. All 54 lots will be deeded to a secondary entity post demolition for a multitude of end uses from side yard expansions to community gardens.

A total of $897,000 has been allocated to Terre Haute who plans to administer the BEP in conjunction with its Urban Renewal Plan and Program for the Recovery of Demolition Sites and Other Vacant Lots.

The Blight Elimination Program funds will be drawn from the $221.7 million Hardest Hit Fund money allocated to Indiana. In February 2014, the U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) approved the use of $75 million of Indiana’s Hardest Hit Funds by Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA) for successful BEP applicants. The partnership allows IHCDA to provide funding to local units of government to eliminate blighted properties in an effort to prevent foreclosures and offer a variety of end uses for the newly cleared parcels, such as green space or redevelopment opportunities. The Blight Elimination Program is not a grant program. The program is a loan program that allows IHCDA to make funding available to successful applicants. The loans will then be restructured as forgivable loans using Hardest Hit Funds.

The State of Indiana has been divided into six funding divisions. Any local unit of government wishing to apply for funds to eliminate blighted homes must do so to IHCDA by their division deadline. Applicants will apply for funds from the funding division in which their county is located. All application deadlines for divisions one, two, three and four have passed.

IHCDA estimates that approximately 4,000 blighted and/or abandoned homes in Indiana will be eliminated through the Blight Elimination Program. Interested local government officials should visit www.877GetHope.org/blight to learn more and apply.

Background

Blighted, vacant and abandoned homes are a serious issue for Indiana homeowners, neighborhoods and communities. Sadly, the State of Indiana has the dubious distinction of having the highest percentage of abandoned foreclosed homes in the country. RealtyTrac and 24/7 Wall Street have reported that roughly 30 percent of Indiana’s foreclosed homes are abandoned. Many of these properties quickly fall into a state of blight and attract undesirable or unlawful activity, thereby negatively impacting Indiana homeowners and neighborhoods by reducing property values and draining local government resources. Many Indiana communities simply lack the resources necessary to combat this growing problem alone.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury established the Housing Finance Agency Innovation Fund for the Hardest-Hit Markets (Hardest Hit Fund) to provide financial assistance to families in the states most impacted by the downturn of the housing market. The U.S. Department of the Treasury designed the overall program to give each participating state the flexibility to tailor its program to the unique factors contributing to its state’s foreclosure problems. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia administer Hardest Hit Fund assistance to qualified homeowners struggling to make their mortgage payments.

Since IHCDA’s announcement that it was exploring the use of Hardest Hit Funds to eliminate blighted and abandoned properties, many have expressed concern that doing so might detract from the mission of helping struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure. IHCDA reassures the public that blight elimination is simply one more instrument in the foreclosure prevention tool kit. As of October 31, approximately 4,300 homeowners have received an estimated $52 million in Hardest Hit Fund mortgage payment assistance. For more information on Indiana’s Hardest Hit Fund, visit www.877GetHope.org.

About The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority: The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA), chaired by Lt. Governor Ellspermann, provides housing opportunities, promotes self-sufficiency and strengthens communities in order to build an Indiana with a sustainable quality of life for all Hoosiers in the community of their choice. For more information, visit www.ihcda.in.gov or www.in.gov/myihcda.

The Lieutenant Governor statutorily serves as the President of the Indiana Senate and chairs the Indiana Counter Terrorism and Security Council.

For updates from Lt. Governor Ellspermann and the agencies she oversees, please visit www.lg.in.gov.

Source: The Office of Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann