News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

February 3, 2014

Small-town blight: $75M fund for removal

Abandoned homes sit for years, driving crime up, property values down

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana plans to spend $75 million to tear down thousands of abandoned homes. For cash-strapped communities, the program aims to help wipe out blight from neighborhoods plagued by plummeting property values and rising crime.

The money targets he “worst of the worst” properties – vacant houses that have become eyesores and have no chance of being reclaimed – in communities of all sizes.

Indiana is only the third state to tap a blight-elimination program that uses money originally set aside by the U.S. Treasury Department for mortgage relief. Unlike Michigan and Ohio, which used funds for large-scale demolitions in big cities, Indiana officials will divide up the money across the state.

“We know abandoned homes are a poison in every community,” said state Sen. James Merritt, R-Indianapolis, who helped push for the program.

Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann announced the program Monday. During a “listening” tour that took her to every county last year, leaders throughout the state identified abandoned homes as one of their most difficult obstacles, she said.

“Unfortunately, Indiana has the dubious distinction of having the highest percentage of abandoned foreclosed homes in the country,” Ellspermann said.

State officials said about 30 percent of foreclosed homes have been left to deteriorate. That equates to about 5,000 abandoned properties. While many are in places like Indianapolis and Gary, two of the state’s biggest cities, they’re also in smaller cities and rural areas.

“You drive around smaller communities where there are 10 to 12 homes on a city street and half of them are abandoned,” said Rep. Alan Morrison, R-Terre Haute. “Even for people who are keeping up their homes, their property values are dropping, and there is nothing they can do about it.”

The blight-elimination money could make a difference for a community like Brazil, a city of 7,900 in west-central Indiana, said Mayor Brian Wyndham. His city has lost population and jobs over the last decade, and it doesn’t have the money to knock down abandoned houses.

“We’ve spent money on fixing up homes and helping people move into them,” Wyndham said. “But some houses just need to be knocked down.”

Demolition can cost $5,000 to $25,000, depending on factors such as the presence of asbestos or other hazardous materials. In the past, Brazil has used fees from building permits to demolish abandoned homes.

“But if you don’t have new building, you don’t have the money from those fees,” Wyndham said. “And if you have blighted neighborhoods, no one wants to build. It’s a vicious cycle.”

Local governments must apply for the blight-elimination money, and the process is competitive. Local officials can increase their changes by showing that a property will be used for redevelopment or for community green space, or that it will be put up for sale to neighbors. State officials said there’s enough money for about 4,000 demolitions.

The program is funded through the federal Hardest Hit Fund, an offshoot of the Troubled Asset Relief Program. The fund was established in 2010 to help homeowners avoid foreclosure in states hit hardest by the 2008 recession.

Indiana received $221 million, primarily to help low- and moderate-income families avoid foreclosure. The state spent about $30 million of that Hardest Hit money by late last year, helping families with mortgage assistance payments. Another $63 million in mortgage assistance payments has been set aside for families currently enrolled in the program.  

States with Hardest Hit funding have lobbied the federal government to use some of the money for demolition of abandoned homes. Houses left vacant through foreclosure, they’ve argued, rapidly deteriorate and pull down surrounding property values. The states made the case that eliminating blight helps reduce foreclosures by stabilizing an area’s property values.

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for CNHI, the Tribune-Star’s parent company. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local & Bistate
  • MET072914leo screen.jpg Slick’s debut

    Bobby “Slick” Leonard was the main attraction but his hometown, Terre Haute, was constantly in the background as friends, fans and family gathered in Indianapolis Tuesday night to honor the man famous for the words “Boom Baby.”

    July 29, 2014 8 Photos

  • MET 072914 TAJIMI YANASE.jpg Sister-city students get a dose of ‘new culture’

    One of Juri Sawada’s dreams has been to visit America.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • Motion delays trial for 2012 homicide

    A man who has been jailed about 20 months in connection with the homicide of his wife will not go on trial next week as scheduled.

    July 29, 2014

  • Sheriff charged in prostitution case

    Clark County Sheriff Danny Rodden has spent more than 30 years in law enforcement working to protect the public from criminals, but on Tuesday he was treated as one.

    July 29, 2014 1 Story

  • maple candy closeup.jpg Vigo Parks dishing out the sweetness

    Vigo County Parks and Recreation has made a “sweet” addition to its maple syrup production at Prairie Creek Park.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • Danny Rodden indicted on federal charges

    Instead of overseeing the operations of the Clark County jail and police force Tuesday, Clark County Sheriff Danny Rodden found himself being transported by the FBI to Indianapolis to answer federal charges.

    July 29, 2014 1 Story

  • Woman’s condition ‘fair’ after grocery store wreck

    A Terre Haute woman was listed in fair condition Tuesday at Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis as the result of injuries sustained in Monday’s accident on the Baesler’s Market parking lot.

    July 29, 2014

  • Semi driver cited for alcohol use

    A commercial vehicle driver has been placed out of service after he tested positive for alcohol consumption during a Tuesday morning traffic stop in Sullivan County.

    July 29, 2014

  • Church to give out school backpacks

    United Methodist Temple will stage its first-ever Back-2-School Bash from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 9.
    The church is located at 5301 S. U.S. 41.

    July 29, 2014

  • Elderly woman in fair condition after accident in Baesler’s lot

    An 80-year-old Terre Haute woman is listed in fair condition today at Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis as the result of injuries sustained in Monday’s accident on the Baesler’s Market parking lot.

    July 29, 2014

  • 2 women survive ordeal along Indiana rail bridge

    BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — A video camera captured the terrifying plight of two women who became trapped on an 80-foot-high railroad bridge by a freight train that surprised them as they walked along the tracks.

    July 29, 2014

  • Vigo County Jail Log: July 29, 2014

    The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Monday and Tuesday, based on jail records.

    July 29, 2014

  • Illinois to ask voters about taxing millionaires

    BERWYN, Ill. (AP) — Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation allowing voters to weigh in on whether Illinois millionaires should pay more income tax.

    July 29, 2014

  • Illinois woman dies retrieving phone from fire

    BARTONVILLE, Ill. (AP) — Authorities say a central Illinois woman is dead after running back into her burning home to get her cell phone. A police officer who tried to save her was hospitalized.

    July 29, 2014

  • Ivy Tech names Jeff Fanter senior VP, Anne Valentine VP

    Ivy Tech Community College President Thomas J. Snyder announced the promotion of Jeff Fanter to the role of senior vice president for student experience, communications and marketing and Anne Valentine to the role of vice president for student experience and customer service.

    July 29, 2014

  • Change in traffic patterns at U.S. 41 intersection improvement project

    VIGO COUNTY, Ind. – The Indiana Department of Transportation reminds motorists the intersection improvement project on U.S. 41 from just south of Interstate 70 to just south of Johnson Drive has switched traffic phases. Traffic is prohibited from turning left off of U.S. 41 at both Johnson and Davis Drives.

    July 29, 2014

  • IU commemorating WWI centennial in 2014-15

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana University plans to spend the upcoming academic year exploring the lingering impact of World War I.

    July 29, 2014

  • Indiana higher ed chief rolls out class load campaign

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s higher education commissioner wants college students to get the message that they should take at least 15 credit hours each semester if they expect to graduate on time.

    July 29, 2014

  • Indiana higher ed chief rolls out class load campaign

    Indiana's higher education commissioner wants college students to get the message that they should take at least 15 credit hours each semester if they expect to graduate on time.

    July 29, 2014

  • MET 072814 BUS MEYERROSE.jpg Bus safety features

    New safety features on South Vermillion School Corp. buses have led to fewer disciplinary problems and fewer incidents of motorists illegally passing stopped school buses, officials say.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • Pendergast.jpg Humvee driver says foot caused fatal accident

    Kyle Pendergast, 22, the Terre Haute driver of a black Humvee charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing the death of a teenager, has told police he could not turn the wheel before the vehicle flipped in a field in an early Saturday morning accident.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET 072814 CONTAMINATED Cleaner may have contaminated water

    Groundwater and soil testing is set to begin within a week to learn whether toxic chemicals might have seeped into the wells of a small southside neighborhood and even beyond.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • Housing Authority’s Warren Village nearing completion

    Construction on the newest Terre Haute Housing Authority property – Warren Village – should wrap up next month, a housing authority official said Monday.

    July 29, 2014

  • rush-hr.jpg Observers predict ‘wide open’ process of picking next chief

    State Supreme Court Chief Justice Brent Dickson surprised observers in June when he decided to step down after a brief tenure as the state’s top judge.

    July 29, 2014 2 Photos

  • Multi-vehicle accident in parking lot

    A woman was hospitalized with injuries after a multiple-vehicle accident late Monday morning in the Baesler’s Market parking lot on Poplar Street

    July 29, 2014

  • Old National acquires Michigan bank

    Evansville-based Old National Bancorp and Grand Rapids-based Founders Financial Corp. said Monday they have finalized an agreement under which Old National will acquire Founders through a stock and cash merger.

    July 28, 2014

  • Ohio man falls to death at Cataract Falls rec area

    Indiana conservation officers are investigating the death of an Ohio man that occurred at about 4:10 p.m. Sunday at Cataract Falls State Recreation Area in Owen County.

    July 28, 2014

  • 65,000 chickens die in rural Indiana fire

    WARSAW, Ind. (AP) — Thousands of chickens have been killed in a fire on a northern Indiana farm.

    July 28, 2014

  • One person hospitalized after parking lot pile-up

    A woman was hospitalized with injuries after an accident late this morning in the Baesler’s Market parking lot.

    July 28, 2014

  • Indiana teachers worry about revamped ISTEP test

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana teachers are heading back to classrooms starting this week and face the daunting task of preparing students for a standardized test that’s been retooled three times since 2009.

    July 28, 2014

Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: NH Man Held on $1M in Teen's Kidnapping House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Raw: Earthquake Rocks Mexico's Gulf Coast Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Jury Awards Ventura $1.8M in Defamation Case Gaza Official: at Least 100 Killed Tuesday Raw: Aftermath, Artillery Shells Hit Donetsk LeBron James Sends Apology Treat to Neighbors
NDN Video
Weird 'Wakudoki' Dance Launches Promotional Competition Two women barely avoid being hit by train Chris Pratt Adorably Surprises Kids at a 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Screening Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity