The City of Jacksonville is working on an initiative to take on vacant, dilapidated, and abandoned residential properties and return them back to the city’s tax rolls. Jacksonville Community Development Director Brian Nyberg presented the council information last night about the Illinois Housing Development Authority’s Strong Communities Grant program.
The program was created this year to provide municipalities, counties, and land banks affordable ways to address revitalization efforts in cases where residential properties are beyond repair and negatively impacting neighboring residences.
Nyberg says it provides a significant amount of money to cities to bring the properties back into taxable use: “The whole purpose of the program is to make these abandoned or vacant properties a taxable resource for the city again. The program includes $5,000 to actually acquire the property, to pay for the liens and the taxes that are due, and the attorney fees; and then up to $40,000 to either demo or rehab the property. Then, it will be up to the city council as to whether they want to have an auction, a sale, or a lottery at that point but it would entail the city acquiring property.”
Nyberg says he’s hoping to get in on the first round of funding: “The grant dates back to January 1 of this year, so the 3 properties that we’ve taken down already, we could maybe get money for those and then, we have 2 that have not come down yet. One was approved for demolition tonight, and we could also get a grant for acquiring those properties and also for demoing those properties. That’s my goal is to get the paperwork in, however I only have 2 weeks to do it. I’m hoping that I can get the paperwork at least for those 5 specific properties.”
The application for the grant is due September 28th. Nyberg says that the Jacksonville Developmental Center is not eligible for this type of grant, but he is looking into another grant program that would cover such a substantial demolition and rehabilitation project. He says his current focus is to pay for the 5 properties that the city has on its list to demolish or have demolished this year, including the 133 East Wolcott residence that the council approved to demolish last night during their monthly meeting. The cost of the demolition was approved for Shireman Farms at a little over $11,000. Nyberg hopes the grant can come in so they can demolish a two-story structure that was destroyed by fire on East Douglas late this summer.