A blighted property in the northwestern Indiana town of East Chicago was the first to be demolished last week as part of Indiana's Hardest Hit Fund Blight Elimination Program (BEP), according to an announcement from Indiana Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann.
Ellspermann was in attendance along with East Chicago city officials to watch the demolition of the property, which is the first of approximately 62 in the city that will be demolished under the program. The BEP has made about $75 million (approved by the U.S. Department of Treasury) available to the state of Indiana to eliminate blight by reducing foreclosures and stabilizing neighborhoods, and about $1.5 million of that money was allocated to East Chicago.
"Indiana’s Blight Elimination Program is a helpful tool in the fight to prevent avoidable foreclosures," said Mark McArdle, U.S. Treasury Chief of the Homeownership Preservation Office. "Through Indiana’s efforts, neighborhoods like East Chicago that have experienced the negative effects of vacant and blighted properties will soon see the benefit of these federal funds. We are proud to continue to work with the leadership of Indiana in their efforts to revitalize and stabilize hard hit communities."
The BEP is administered by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA) with the goal of not just demolishing blighted and/or abandoned properties and improving the lots they sit on, but in stabilizing property values by preventing avoidable foreclosures in the state.
“The Blight Elimination Program assists Indiana municipalities in their efforts to remove blighted properties that depress property values and endanger neighborhoods,” Ellspermann said. “Through the collaboration of recipients and their program partners, cities and towns around our state will see 4,000 houses demolished in support of efforts for neighborhood revitalization along with a reduction in area foreclosures.”
According to the announcement, the property that was demolished in East Chicago last week will be maintained as a green space by the East Chicago Redevelopment Commission until the city identifies a suitable development opportunity.
The BEP provided local government units in all 92 of Indiana's counties to compete for funding to prevent foreclosures through the elimination of blighted properties. The government allocated $221.7 million to Indiana under the Hardest Hit Funds, and Treasury approved the use of $75 million in February 2014 for the IHCDA to use for successful BEP applicants. The partnership between Treasury and IHCDA will allow not only for the elimination of blighted structures, but to offer a variety of uses for the newly cleared parcels of land. According to the announcement, the IHCDA estimates that approximately 4,000 blighted properties across the state will eventually be demolished as part of the program.