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Program giving blighted neighborhoods new start gets underway on east side

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INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 8, 2014) - A brand new effort to clean up blighted Indiana neighborhoods is now underway, as officials gathered for the first of many demolitions as part of the ‘Hardest Hit Fund Blight Elimination Program.’

Crews gathered on the city’s near east side at a home on North Beville Avenue – the first of up to 4,000 houses to be demolished or restored as part of the program.

“Today we will take down the first of 4,000 demolitions of dilipitated and abandoned structures that are truly a blight to their neighborhood,” said Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann.

“Houses like this can become crime magnets,” said Indianapolis mayor Greg Ballard. “They’re warehouses for drugs and for guns.”

But now thanks to millions in federal funds, the program is helping the neighborhoods that need it most.

“Tearing down 906 N. Beville represents the first of five houses that will be demolished here on the near East side,” said John Franklin Hay, executive director for Near East Area Renewal, Inc. (NEAR).

“It really inspires a little hope in the community,” said city-county councilman Zach Adamson, a Democrat. “Communities around Indianapolis have been blighted by these abandoned homes for a number of years.”

“This is all about making our neighborhoods more livable, increasing our property values and making people safe,” said state senator Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis.

But across the street, neighbor John Banks has mixed emotions.

“I think the crime will go down some with people living in the (houses),” said Banks. “I like the idea of them re-doing the neighborhood I just wish they’d keep them in original format… I don’t like the idea of them tearing them down.”

Instead he'd like to see them re-modeled, like they did with a home two doors down from the one demolished on Monday.

“New homes on this street and restored homes on this street with homeowners living in them increases safety and sense of place,” said Hay. “That’s what helps us build a great city.”

The program will make available some $75 million across the state to eliminate blight. The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority will administer the program.

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