4 homes targeted for razing: Move part of city’s blight-elimination

Columbus has identified four additional homes to be torn down this year under the city’s blight-elimination program.

The four homes targeted for demolition are at 834 Werner St., 705 Werner St., 824 Eighth St. and 1313 Ninth St.

The city is working with three of the property owners to obtain documentation needed in order to transfer the deed on the parcels to the Southern Indiana Housing and Community Development Corp., said Robin Hilber, community development programs coordinator.

The home at 834 Werner St. was purchased at a tax sale in September, but needs to be in the name of a program partner so it can be demolished, Hilber said.

The Columbus Board of Works approved an agreement last week authorizing the city to transfer the property at 834 Werner St. to the SIHCDC, allowing the home to be demolished through the blight-elimination program.

“Our goal is to have all the documentation so we can bid them all at the same time,” Hilber said.

The city plans to use funding administered by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority to demolish the homes by the end of the year.

Columbus had originally received $685,000 three years ago in funding through the IHCDA and was required to spend all of the money by February 2016. When that deadline wasn’t met, the city’s funding was cut in half to $342,500 after it applied for and received an extension, Hilber said.

The grant funding must be used by Dec. 31, she said.

The funding came from the U.S. Department of Treasury, which provided $75 million to the state under the Hardest Hit Fund and was earmarked for the blight-elimination program, Hilber said. The fund, which was created in February 2010 by former President Barack Obama, was to provide aid to families in states hit hard by the economic and housing market downturn, according to the treasury’s website.

Six properties have already been acquired and demolished through the blight elimination program: 2020 Sixth St., 1468 Union St., 1462 California St., 506 Smith St., 48 S. Hinman St. and 300 S. Beatty St.

There are no other plans to demolish any other blighted properties this year due to the amount of funding available, Hilber said.

Hilber said with blighted homes being torn down, the city hopes to reduce crime and to increase the value of homes in a particular neighborhood. The site can also be potentially redeveloped for new housing as well, she said.

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The blight-elimination program may provide from $15,000 to $25,000 to address an individual property identified for demolition.

Up to $15,000 can be used for residential structures without a basement with $9,000 funding demolition and up to $6,000 to acquire the property and clear title.

In addition, up to $25,000 can be used for residential structures with a basement with $15,000 funding demolition and up to $10,000 to acquire the property.

Source: Robin Hilber, community development programs coordinator with the city of Columbus

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For more information on Indiana’s blight-elimination program, visit 877gethope.org/blight.