This state’s $19 million “Strong Communities” investment wisely integrates affordable housing with community revitalization

As documented in the 2020 book, RECONOMICS: The Path To Resilient Prosperity, affordable housing is often the most important element of lasting downtown revitalization efforts.

Now, on September 20, 2023, the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) Board wisely put that principle into practice when they approved $19 million to support affordable housing and community revitalization efforts all across the state of Illinois.

Awarded under the Strong Communities Program (SCP), the initiative will provide funding to 68 units of local governments and land bank authorities for the acquisition, maintenance, rehabilitation, and demolition of abandoned residential properties in their communities.

Vacant and abandoned properties continue to be a strain on local budgets and resources in communities throughout Illinois, which is why IHDA created the Strong Communities Program to assist local governments with their neighborhood revitalization efforts,” IHDA Executive Director Kristin Faust said.

Through the Strong Communities Program, IHDA seeks to help communities transform these properties back into positive, revenue-generating assets for neighborhoods,” she explained.

The program is designed to support local revitalization efforts and attract further investment in communities that may lack the resources needed to tackle vacant, abandoned and deteriorated properties.

Investing in affordable housing uplifts our community and boosts our local economy,” said State Senator Christopher Belt (D-Swansea).

We are taking strong strides toward revitalization and attracting investments in the communities that need it most. Cahokia Heights residents deserve sustainable, livable housing options and this funding will help the area continue to grow,” he continued.

SCP was created in Aug. 2020 in response to the Illinois Community Revitalization Task Force that was created by the Illinois General Assembly to help address vacant and abandoned residential properties.

This round of SCP provides grants up to $750,000 to help Illinois municipalities, counties and land banks address local affordable housing needs and community revitalization efforts.

Every Illinoisan deserves stable and affordable housing. Thanks to Governor Pritzker and the Illinois Housing Development Authority, we are leading with compassion and improving our communities,” said Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton.

This $19 million investment will bolster our neighborhoods and ensure Illinois families have a place to call home,” she continued.

The program aims to return vacant residential properties to productive and taxable use through rehabilitation and provide funds for demolition in cases where properties are beyond repair and negatively impacting neighboring residences.

As a result, SCP will help to increase property values, create jobs, help reduce crime, generate additional tax revenue, and attract further community investment.

As our economy continues to improve and we continue to get the state back to work for working families, it’s important that we leverage our newfound prosperity to revitalize every community,” said State Representative Sue Scherer (D-Decatur).

The Strong Communities Program funds efforts to address blighted properties in our community, eliminating factors that lower property values and providing more opportunities for aspiring homeowners,” she added.

SCP program funds reimburse applicants for costs related to the acquisition, rehabilitation and maintenance of abandoned residential properties and may also include reimbursements for tree, shrub and debris removal, lot treatment and greening and other reasonable construction costs associated with returning vacant, abandoned, and deteriorated properties to productive use.

Vacant and blighted properties are a big obstacle for cities and villages that are trying to grow their local economies,” said State Representative Robert ‘Bob’ Rita (D-Blue Island). “Through the Strong Communities Program, municipalities like Blue Island have an important tool to help grow and revitalize.

The grants are funded by the Rebuild Illinois capital plan and will leverage IHDA’s ongoing state and federally funded initiatives to increase property values, create jobs, help reduce crime, generate additional tax revenue, and attract further community investment in underserved communities around the state.

A total of $30 million in grant funding has been awarded through over two application rounds.

My administration is committed to investing in communities across the state, especially those that have been historically underserved,” said Governor JB Pritzker.

Thanks to the Strong Communities Program and the Illinois Housing Development Authority, this $19 million in funding will directly support local governments in their infrastructure restoration efforts. With a central focus on affordable housing developments, we’re investing in our most important resource – our people – for years to come,” he concluded.

2017 photo of Rockford, Illinois’ East State Street Corridor is by Alexbaumgarner via Wikipedia.

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