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Fort Wayne to get $4.7 million to fight blight

About 200 vacant homes to be demolished

Thursday, June 26, 2014 - 2:59 pm

Fort Wayne and South Bend will split about $6.3 million in federal funds designed to help eliminate blighted and abandoned homes, with Fort Wayne getting more than half -- $4.71 million.

The two cities were successful applicants in the second of six rounds of funding that will make a total of $75 million available through the Hardest Hit Fund Blight Elimination Program (BEP) to reduce foreclosures and stabilize property values.

“This is great news as we continue to see unprecedented momentum in our City,” Mayor Tom Henry said in a statement. “This effort is all about stabilizing neighborhoods and increasing property values.”

The funding will allow the city's Office of Housing and Neighborhood Services and Neighborhood Code Enforcement to demolish and redevelop three times the number of vacant homes that are normally taken down in a year. About 200 vacant homes will be demolished and redeveloped with the funding. The properties will be selected because they are vacant, in extremely poor condition, can be easily acquired and are on highly visible streets and roads.

Neighborhood associations will be asked to help determine what happens with the properties after they are taken down. Some will be turned into green space; others will be available for development of new homes or a mixture of residential and commercial space. Property acquisition will begin within the next month.

"As Indiana moves forward with the second round of funding for the Blight Elimination Program, I am pleased that we will be able to assist Fort Wayne and South Bend officials in revitalizing and redeveloping targeted areas within their communities," said Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann in a statement.

The Blight Elimination Program (BEP) funds will be drawn from the $221.7 million Hardest Hit Fund money allocated to Indiana. In February, the U.S. Department of the 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 Blight Elimination Program is not a grant program, but allows the IHCDA to make loans available to successful applicants. The loans will then be restructured as forgivable loans using Hardest Hit Funds.

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.