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Lt. Governor and Mayor Update Community on Blight Elimination Program

Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann joined Fort Wayne officials today to watch a blighted property in the Pontiac Place neighborhood located at 2801 Euclid Ave. be demolished as part of the Indiana Hardest Hit Fund Blight Elimination Program (BEP).

"The Blight Elimination Program helps municipalities around our state remove blighted houses that burden local governments and citizens alike," said Lt. Governor Ellspermann. "Through our efforts, we anticipate the demolition of nearly 4,000 blighted properties statewide resulting in improved property values and productive end uses to enhance neighborhoods through the local redevelopment activities."

Statewide, the program has made a total of $75 million in blight elimination funds available to reduce foreclosures through stabilization of residential property values. Today's demolition is among the first from the total of $7.5 million allocated to the City of Fort Wayne in two separate awards. These funds will be used to demolish, green and maintain approximately 315 blighted properties in Fort Wayne.

"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 Timothy Bowler. "Through Indiana's efforts, neighborhoods 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."

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.

"Fort Wayne puts a priority on strengthening neighborhoods, and the Blight Elimination Program is a key part of our efforts," said Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry. "Removing homes that are vacant and dangerous helps stabilize property values and create safe and healthy neighborhoods."

The property is located in the Pontiac Place neighborhood, an area in which the City of Fort Wayne has invested significant resources. It was chosen due to multiple unsafe structure notices issued for the property, as the foundation was a hazard, and while boarded up, individuals had managed to break into the home.

After today's blight elimination activities, Housing and Neighborhood Development Services (HANDS) will maintain the property as green space until the highest and best end use for the newly vacant lot is identified.

"This program will help continue the revitalization taking place in southeast Fort Wayne," said Southeast Area Partnership Chair Tony Ridley. "New housing options are available throughout Renaissance Pointe and surrounding neighborhoods, but it's also important to stabilize existing housing – and that's what this effort is all about."

The Blight Elimination Program provided 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.

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About The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority: The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA), chaired by Lt. Governor Ellspermann, provides housing opportunities, promotes self-sufficiency and strengthens communities in order to build an Indiana with a sustainable quality of life for all Hoosiers in the community of their choice. For more information, visit www.ihcda.in.gov or www.in.gov/myihcda.