State Releases More Blight Elimination Funding

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Ten Indiana communities will receive funding from the state's Hardest Hit Fund Blight Elimination Program. Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann announced Thursday more than $4 million will be awarded.

January 22, 2015

News Release

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann today announced that 10 municipalities received additional funding from Indiana’s Hardest Hit Fund Blight Elimination Program (BEP). The combined awards total approximately $4.3 million in BEP funding to help eliminate blighted and abandoned homes in those communities.

Communities receiving awards:

Boone County

- City of Lebanon - $72,000

Grant County

- City of Marion - $481,000

- Town of Sweetser - $36,000

Howard County

- City of Kokomo - $1,754,000

Wayne County

- Town of Greens Fork - $68,000

- Town of Hagerstown - $150,000

- City of Richmond - $1,344,000

Counties receiving awards:

- Dearborn County - $150,000

- Howard County - $72,000

- Warrick County - $176,000

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.

“Indiana’s Blight Elimination Program provides communities large and small the opportunity to address blighted and abandoned homes,” said Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann, who chairs the IHCDA board. “With this additional round of funding, these neighborhoods are able to provide valuable end uses for even more properties, extending the reach and positive impact to the community and local economy.”

In the first round of Division Four funding, over $6.1 million was awarded; the City of Columbus received $700,000; Dearborn County received $215,000; the City of Kokomo received $1.2 million; the City of Marion received $935,000; the City of Richmond received nearly $1.9 million; the Town of Silver Lake received $55,000; Warrick County received nearly $1.1 million and the City of Cambridge City received $45,000.

“Indiana’s Blight Elimination Program continues to help revitalize neighborhoods that have experienced the damaging effects caused by vacant and blighted properties,” said U.S. Treasury Deputy Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability Timothy Bowler. “This additional funding will allow these hard hit communities to benefit from the removal of blighted properties, an important step in stabilizing neighborhoods and helping homeowners avoid foreclosure.”

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 had to do so to IHCDA by their division deadline. Applicants applied for funds from the funding division in which their county is located. All application deadlines for divisions one through six 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 one of the highest percentages of abandoned foreclosed homes in the country. RealtyTrac reported that roughly 24 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 December 31, approximately 4,700 homeowners have received an estimated $57 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 manages the following agencies of State government: Office of Defense Development, Office of Community and Rural Affairs, Indiana State Department of Agriculture, Indiana Office of Tourism Development, Office of Small Business and Entrepreneurship and the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority.

Source: Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority