Terre Haute is one of several communities planning to apply for state funding to tear down abandoned homes after the Lieutenant Governor announced earlier this week that $75 million is being dedicated to a Blight Elimination program.
Indiana has the highest percentage of abandoned foreclosed homes in the country and officials from Terre Haute say they have some of the oldest housing stock in the state.
City engineer Pat Martin says many of those homes are located near former industrial sites.
“As a result of when those industries disappeared, a lot of the residential areas disappeared too,” Martin says. “And then we ended up with a considerable amount of blighted housing – particularly along old railroad corridors and around old industrial manufacturing centers.”
The state’s program gives preference to areas that are within a half a mile of a contaminated site or “brownfield”. Martin says he’s created a map of 56 such sites in Terre Haute in hopes of giving the city a better chance at qualifying for funding.
Terre Haute Department of Redevelopment Executive Director Cliff Lambert says his department has acquired land parcels and older abandoned homes that are full of asbestos. And that makes it harder for the city to tear them down.
He says the city is always looking for ways to get the old properties back on the tax rolls.
“We try and put them together in such a way that a private developer could come in and purchase those properties from us and then build new housing stock in the inner city,” Lambert says.
Lambert says not all of the details for the funds have been worked out but he expects to have a better idea whether Terre Haute will qualify for them by the end of the month.