Muncie officials say work could start on blighted homes this fall

MUNCIE (WISH) –  The latest round of awards through the “Hardest Hit Fund” blight elimination program, gives a combined $10.8 million dollars to seven Indiana cities and two counties.

They’re just the latest awards granted to give cities funds to demolish abandoned or vacant homes.

As part of the application process, officials say they have to have an ‘end use,’ or an idea of how to use that space, once the home is torn down.

Anderson will receive $1.4 million dollars, Elwood will receive $625,000 dollars and Alexandria will receive $355,000, among several others.

Muncie will receive $2.88 million dollars, that city officials say will go to help demolish 154 homes in 16 neighborhoods.

It took months for a team to identify those abandoned and vacant homes that qualify for the funding, and for them to plan for what will happen next to the property.

“It couldn’t be nothing but a positive thing,” said J.C. Robertson, who lives near two homes the city could demolish.

He’s lived in the neighborhood for 42 years.

“It was a real nice neighborhood when I first moved here,” he said. “This couldn’t be nothing but positive.”

Garnet Arnold owns property near another vacant, boarded up home.

“There have been people seen going in and out of it. We’re afraid it’s going to end up having drugs or something like that related to it, and we just don’t want anything like that around here,” Arnold said.

When she found out the city wants to tear it down, and do something with the property, she said, “We’re very excited about that.”

So are those working in the Muncie Mayor’s office. They say, they’ve been working since October on this.

“This program, and the funding the city is receiving, suddenly opens the door to so much more,” said Christopher Allen, the Hardest Hit Funds Coordinator for the City of Muncie.

“Most municipalities don’t have the resources to do as much as we’d like to do, so this is going to be a great shot in the arm to be able to get more things done in Muncie,” said Dr. Terry Whitt Bailey, Director of Community Development for the City of Muncie.

As part of the application process, officials say they already have an idea of how to use that space, once the home is torn down. Nothing is final just yet, but they’ve got many options: small parks, community gardens, new construction, or just adding that lot to the home beside it.

“For one of the first times in a long time, we’ll be able to make a big impact when it comes to blight elimination,” said Allen.

Allen says they could start demolition work in Muncie by the fall.

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