IHDA’s community revitalization strategies provide guidance and funding to help local governments identify and address their local housing needs. More than a decade after the foreclosure crisis, the City of Decatur was burdened with the cost of maintaining hundreds of vacant homes and abandoned lots. But with funding from two rounds of IHDA’s Abandoned Properties Program, City Manager Billy Tyus and Economic & Community Development Director Raymond Lai have the funding they need to demolish abandoned structures in neighborhoods targeted by their local community revitalization plan. With problem properties removed, the City plans to repurpose the land as safe and attractive green space where social services, job training, and life skills can be provided for as many as 100 qualified residents.
In FY2018, IHDA continued to help Illinois cities and towns to effectively plan for revitalization and development in their communities. We maintained our efforts to better engage local leaders and planning staff, traveling the state to meet one-on-one with mayors and managers in over 40 communities in need of housing resources and assistance. In areas where vacancies and blight persist, IHDA’s blight reduction programs awarded $6.6 million to help municipalities and community development organizations in 26 counties maintain or demolish 856 abandoned properties. FY2018 also saw the launch of the Land Bank Capacity Program and Technical assistance Network, a new initiative designed to offset the cost of creating and operating land banks in the downstate and southern portions of the state. Funded by the Attorney General’s National Foreclosure Settlement, the program made awards to nine municipalities, counties, land banks and two technical assistance providers to improve planning and land banking capacity in communities outside of the Chicago metro area.
Finally, our recently formed team of Community Revitalization Specialists has been reaching out to communities throughout Illinois to form partnerships to expand local planning capacity via a community revitalization strategy process. By providing community revitalization strategies and technical assistance to communities, we believe these partnerships will increase local capacity to see affordable housing as an important element of local economic and community development goals. Housing developers may also benefit from this activity as the plans developed by or in conjunction with IHDA’s technical assistance will help to provide a clearer understanding of current housing needs and the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit process. Additionally, investors will be able to connect to the market analysis tools and additional funding sources identified by the strategy. Demand for Community Revitalization technical assistance began immediately upon the announcement of the program, and as of this year, IHDA has provided technical assistance to 76 development teams and communities across the state with 17 others currently under consideration. Furthermore, our revitalization team has served or is currently serving on 13 “advisory” groups that allow IHDA to provide partners and other organizations with community revitalization guidance.