Blight in Muncie IN cleared by hard hit dollars

Hundreds of abandoned homes could be demolished

By Rick Yencer

MUNCIE, INDIANA (NEWS) - Like other cities in the country, Muncie has its share of abandoned and rundown homes.

And the federal government has provided billions of dollars in hard hit funds to pay mortgages and tear down old useless housing to ease blight in inner city neighborhoods.

Indiana has $221 million in federal dollars to do those jobs, and Muncie is looking for its share of money, about $4 million, to begin tearing down old homes already found abandoned and set for demolition.

Chris Allen, who works for Muncie's Redevelopment Commission, offered some details of the program that will likely been oversee by the MRC to a host of neighborhood interests, property management groups and others at city hall.

By summer, the city hopes to have the money, a list of properties and partners to help clear old homes and find new use for lots like community gardens, neighborhood parks and even new homes.

The later is ambitious, as Allen said he was unaware of even more federal dollars to build out some inner city neighborhoods similar to Indianapolis that cleared blocks of old housing for new, affordable homes and apartments.

Annie Poole, who chairs the MRC, said the program was ambitious and required the city to own the property at the time of demolition. She also wondered what other partners and resources could be gathered to make the program a success.

Allen said neighborhood development groups, for and not for profit organizations and faith based groups could partner with the city to acquire old homes for demolition and reuse.

The city already has about 199 homes on a list that would be eligible for up to $25,000 in hard hit funds to demolish.

That list is fluid and could grow, Allen said, but it cannot include industrial or commercial property or homes designated as or in historic districts.

Jesse Slaven, who lives in south Muncie, thought the program sounded good, and she said there were plenty of houses in Thomas Park and Avondale neighborhoods that were empty and should be removed.

 But she was unsure whether her neignborhood and others could sustain gardens, parks and other development.

Muncie will compete with other cities like Anderson, Terre Haute, Kokomo and Bloomington for a share of the hard hit money just like other larger and smaller cities and towns throughout the country.

For more information about the program, check local government's website, at www.cityofmuncie.com