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Local News

Joliet gets nearly $1 million in blight reduction funds

JOLIET – Joliet is getting nearly $1 million to buy up abandoned and foreclosed homes.

The federal money is coming through the Illinois Housing Development Authority’s Blight Reduction Program.

The IHDA announced this week it is distributing an additional $10.5 million for the program, including $980,000 for Joliet.

Joliet previously received $280,000 through the program, which was used to buy 10 residential properties, said Alfredo Melesio, director of neighborhood services for the city. Most were single-family homes.

“A lot of these were from a tax sale,” Melesio said. “They’re basically abandoned. Some were foreclosures.”

The city plans to acquire 28 houses with the latest round of funding. Joliet has been targeting a section of the East Side south of Cass Street and a section of the near West Side along Broadway Street.

Joliet is partnering with the South Suburban Land Bank and Development Authority in acquiring and eventually redeveloping or selling the properties.

Melesio said the program “reduces blight, and it gives people encouragement to invest in the neighborhood.”

Abandoned houses are demolished, making the property available for sale or redevelopment.

One area where the city is buying property is in the neighborhood of Des Plaines Garden Homes, a 122-unit housing project that the Housing Authority of Joliet plans to demolish in the spring to make room for the new Water’s Edge mixed-income development.

Fifteen communities received the Blight Reduction Program funds announced Wednesday, including Aurora, Danville, Evanston, Park Forest, Rockford and Springfield.

In its news release announcing the funding, the IHDA said homes located in the same block as a foreclosed property can drop $8,000 to $10,000 in value.

“Our goal, when choosing the awardees, is to collaborate with communities that have a demonstrated need, but also have elements in place that we can build upon to ensure our investment makes the greatest impact possible,” IHDA Executive Director Audra Hamernik said in the release.

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