A healthy community does more than ensure the availability of quality and affordable housing. In many areas, improving the health and stability of the community requires creative solutions that ensure the existing housing stock is safe, habitable, and responsive to the changing needs of residents as they age in their homes.
Whole blocks throughout the village of Park Forest are still plagued by blight caused by foreclosures and vacancies that occurring during the Great Recession. With over 100 properties that are vacant and tax delinquent within the village, these homes were impacting neighboring property values, creating safety hazards, and reducing local tax revenue as they fell into disrepair. The property next door to homeowner Cherise Kimbrough’s home sat vacant for 12 years as the village looked for solutions, becoming an eyesore that needed substantial renovations before it could return to the market.
Park Forest partnered with the South Suburban Land Bank and utilized funds from IHDA’s Abandoned Property Program (APP) to acquire, demolish, and rehabilitate 43 blighted properties throughout the village. As a part of this revitalization effort, Park Forest used a portion of the APP funding to pay for home renovations completed through the South Suburban Trades Initiative, an innovative workforce development strategy to give local students on-site experience in interior carpentry, HVAC, roofing, plumbing and other trades.
Following the withdrawal of several local business, the city of Hoopeston in Vermilion County had struggled with long-term vacancies, property code violations, and lost tax revenue. With funding from IHDA’s Strong Communities Program, Hoopeston and the Central Illinois Land Bank Authority provided an opportunity to clean up problem properties and return vacant homes to the tax rolls. The Land Bank’s plan involved the purchase of properties from the county trustee that were delinquent on their taxes for more than five years, typically houses that were beyond repair. The blighted properties were demolished, and the vacant lots are now available for purchase.
IHDA’s blight reduction programs awarded a total of $9.5 million in 2020 and 2021 to help municipalities and community development organizations in 36 counties maintain or demolish 2,337 abandoned properties.
To assist families who cannot afford the high cost of repairs and maintenance, IHDA’s Single Family Rehabilitation Program awarded $5 million in funding to municipalities and non-profit organizations to administer local repair programs that corrected code violations, eliminated health and safety hazards, and lowered energy consumption for 140 families throughout 31 counties. At the same time, IHDA funded a local accessibility programs that provided grant funding for interior chair lifts, exterior ramps, bathroom modifications, among other modifications to improve the accessibility of local housing stock. With the help of local program administrators, the Home Accessibility Program made critical accessibility improvements to 27 single-family properties in 15 counties.
And, in addition to the Authority’s emergency rental and mortgage assistance programs launched in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, IHDA continued to dedicate resources to connect struggling residents with the financial and educational lifelines they need. In 2020 and 2021, IHDA funded a network of counseling agencies that provided free support and financial education to more than 32,150 families to help them explore their options to achieve the best possible outcome for their housing situation.