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City officials celebrate launch of $3 million Blight Elimination Program demolition in Kokomo

INDIANAPOLIS – Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight, along with a group of local officials, commemorated the city’s launch of Indiana's Hardest Hit Fund Blight Elimination Program (BEP). The first residence to be demolished as part of the BEP is located in the Northside neighborhood at 1312 N. Market St., where today’s event was hosted.

“Indiana’s Blight Elimination Program is our response to the harmful effects of vacant and abandoned properties around our state,” said Lt. Governor Ellspermann. “For Indiana homeowners, we’re helping prevent avoidable foreclosures, and for neighborhoods, we’re providing the prospect of redevelopment for thousands of cleared properties.”

Statewide, the program has made a total of $75 million in blight elimination funds available to reduce foreclosures through stabilization of residential property values. The property on North Market Street will be the first residence to be demolished from the total of more than $3 million allocated to the City of Kokomo. These funds will be used to demolish, green and maintain blighted properties in Kokomo.

Administered by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA), the goal of the BEP is not just to demolish abandoned homes and improve the resulting lots, but ultimately prevent avoidable foreclosures and stabilize property values in Indiana communities.

“Indiana’s Blight Elimination Program is a helpful tool in the fight to prevent avoidable foreclosures,” said U.S. Treasury Deputy Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability Mark McArdle. “We are proud to continue to work with Indiana in their efforts to revitalize and stabilize hard hit communities.”

Kokomo’s Northside neighborhood has begun a major transformation. Patriot Porcelain recently reopened a formerly vacant factory and the City of Kokomo is extending the Industrial Heritage Trail through the neighborhood. In addition, a new senior housing development will soon be built in the neighborhood. It will feature 70 single-story, two-bedroom units to be built on Morgan Street.

"We have been aggressive in the past about addressing unsafe structures to make Kokomo’s neighborhoods safer and more attractive,” said Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight. “Through the Blight Elimination Program we can demolish more than 140 abandoned and dilapidated houses that are neighborhood eyesores and driving down property values of nearby homeowners.”

The first property to be demolished, 1312 N. Market St., had its utilities disconnected in 2012. The police were called to the premises due to an “open door and window” incident. After the residence is demolished, the program partner will maintain the property as green space until a redevelopment plan is solidified.

The Blight Elimination Program provides local units of government in all 92 Indiana counties the opportunity to compete for funding to prevent avoidable foreclosures through the elimination of blighted and abandoned homes. The funds are drawn from the $221.7 million in Hardest Hit Funds allocated to Indiana. In February 2014, the U.S. Department of the Treasury approved the use of $75 million of Indiana’s Hardest Hit Funds by IHCDA for successful Blight Elimination Program applicants. The partnership between IHCDA and Treasury allows for funding to eliminate blighted properties and offer a variety of end uses for the newly cleared parcels, such as green space or redevelopment. All application deadlines have passed.

For more information on the Indiana’s Hardest Hit Fund Blight Elimination Program, visit www.877GetHope.org/blight.