Wednesday night I had the opportunity to attend a public forum addressing blight in Indiana communities. Muncie was the third such forum held. Graciously hosted by Mayor Dennis Tyler at City Hall, the event saw a large and diverse group of citizens.
Indiana’s Abandoned Home program was presented by Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority overseen by Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann, and spearheaded by Senator Jim Merritt in conjunction with State Representatives Lutz and Errington, and State Senators Lanane and Eckerty.
I’ll admit not familiar with the legal complexity of blighted properties, still one doesn’t have to look far to see examples of houses and how it affects the surrounding neighborhoods. Blighted properties are a magnet for crime, vandalism, squatters, arson and a variety of other undesirable elements. It’s not just an urban problem, it extends to the rural area, too.
In Muncie, circa 2010, blighted properties were highlighted weekly in the newspaper drawing the public’s eye to the problems and solutions. Often a property would be targeted, and the end result saw it either rehabilitated or removed. We had a deconstruction program praised by Joe Hogsett, Indiana U.S. Attorney, which utilized prison re-entry program as the source of labor.
We had some fantastic successes in rehabbing apartments and homes, but sadly, not every property is worth saving or fiscally feasible to rehab.
Somewhere along the line, the zeal for targeting blight has diminished, The weekly articles ceased, information and progress on the properties became a guest column now and then with ideas but no real progress has been made. Oh, we have had successes and hope of future successes to come, yet blight is still here for now. And it’s very real.
With funding and legislation expected, how can those monies be evenly dispersed among 92 counties? The State of Indiana has designated “Divisions” which groups together counties based on population. Delaware County is Division Three and includes Clark, Elkhart, Hendricks, Johnson, LaPorte, Madison, Monroe, Porter, Tippecanoe, Vanderburgh and Vigo Counties. Estimated amount of funds $19 million dollars. As presented, this will be a very competitive program. Municipalities will submit their properties and future reuse of properties. The criteria used for submission is point based and links to further information is listed at the end of this blog.
The program, is quite detailed and subject to change before it becomes finalized, just consider this as a heads up and something to watch.
I’m still trying to digest all the information, and certainly don’t consider this anything more than a basic source of information. Just keep your eyes out for further developments.
Muncie competing for state’s demolition dollars (Star Press article available for 7 days)