Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann Announces Blight Elimination Program Awards for Lake and Marion Counties

city of gary sealGary, Ind. to Receive $6.6 million of $15 million allocated to address blighted homes

Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann today announced that five Indiana cities received a combined award of more than $15 million to help eliminate blighted and abandoned homes in those communities through the Hardest Hit Fund Blight Elimination Program (BEP). The five initial cities are East Chicago, Gary, Hammond, Indianapolis and Lawrence. They are the successful applicants in the first of six rounds of funding that will make a total of $75 million available for blight elimination to reduce foreclosures.

City of Gary officials received word earlier today that it will receive $6.6 million. Mayor Freeman-Wilson was speaking at a local groundbreaking when the news broke.

“I could not contain my excitement,” said Freeman-Wilson. “We had a team of people who worked extremely hard on this application and their diligence and tenacity has now paid off in large dividends for our city.”

Freeman-Wilson immediately began making thank you calls to the Governor’s Office, the Lt. Governor’s Office, Jacob Sipe of IHCDA, former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy graduate students as well as to City of Gary staff who all played a role in pulling the extensive application together.

University of Chicago graduate students, under the instruction of Daley, initially made the suggestion that the City lobby for hardest hit funds to be made available for demolition while assisting with the survey of more than 20,000 parcels of land as well as the development the “deconstruction pilot” which was included in the City’s application.

Last fall, Mayor Freeman-Wilson hosted a packed community forum with Sipe’s team where citizens weighed in on the areas in Gary where demolition is needed. It was at that time that the Mayor promised residents that the City of Gary would apply for Hardest Hit funding to address their concerns.

The continued work of the Gary Northside Redevelopment Team, as part of the HUD, EPA, and DOT Partnership for Sustainable Communities, also helped the City staff select targeted neighborhoods and properties for sustainable end-uses as required by the State under the program.

In addition to spending months collecting data on blighted structures across the city, several team members spent the entire Easter weekend preparing the final packet for submission. (Full list of team members appears at the conclusion of this release.)

“When determined minds come together, this is the outcome you get,” said Gary Chief of Staff, Richard Leverett, who coordinated Gary’s application team. “This significant amount of dollars will allow us to make a visible impact on the elimination of abandoned buildings.”

The Blight Elimination Program provides an opportunity for local units of government in all 92 Indiana counties to compete for funding to eliminate blighted, vacant and abandoned homes and decrease foreclosures.

“We sincerely thank the U.S. Treasury for its support to make Indiana’s Blight Elimination Program a reality,” said Ellspermann. “Through the demolition and redevelopment process, these five Indiana cities will see a positive impact on their property values, public safety and sense of community.”

The City of Gary is planning a press conference next week to share more information its application, how the Hardest Hit Funds will be used, job creation and what areas of the city will experience blight reduction.

Hardest Hit Funds Application Team and Partners

City of Gary

Jesse Butler
Stephen Broadwell
James Brown
Martin Brown
Cassandra Carter
Arlene Colvin
Michael Dawson
Evelyn Diaz
Tamaris Green
Joy Holiday
Kenneth Jenkins
Maridythe Johnson
Cedric Kuykendall
Cloteal Labroi
Richard Leverett
Rolanda Lewis
Jackie Lynon
Steven Marcus
Mamie McLain
Carrol Pirttle
Brenda Scott-Henry
Anissa Smith
David Stalf
Joseph van Dyk
Joi Whiteside
Aaron Williams
Carol Williams
Jerry Williams

University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, Daley Fellowship
Carol Brown
Jocelyn Hare

Legacy Foundation
Tina Rongers
Lincoln Chandler

Other Program Partners and Supporters
Fuller Center for Housing of Gary
Eve Pytel, Delta Institute
Indiana University Northwest
Ivy Tech Community College