Indiana plans $75M push to demolish abandoned homes

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Indiana officials plan to use a $75 million federal grant to demolish thousands of blighted houses in the state

Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann announced the initiative Monday at the Statehouse. She said knocking down blighted and abandoned homes will help maintain property values and cut down on crime.

An estimated 4,000 houses could be demolished with the money, a fraction of the more than 50,000 abandoned homes statewide. That's an average cost of $18,750 per demolition.

Cities and counties can apply for a portion of the grant starting this month.

RealtyTrac reports that about a third of Indiana's foreclosed houses are abandoned, among the highest percentage in the country.

Indianapolis also was ranked in the top 20 of metro areas with the highest number of abandoned homes last year.


  • Research
    http://www.877gethope.org/blight This is not Detroit. Adding homeless shelters does not end homelessness.
  • $18,750?
    $18,750? Sounds WAY high. The city demoed a house on mine and sent the bill and it was about half that cost!
  • Unfortunate
    I agree that this is sad and a poor way to blow through 75 million. Why wasn't the money used to turn some of the homes into shelters at least.. Hell, Detroit is selling their abandoned homes for literally pennies so that they buyer can fix up the homes themselves and bring more people to the community. So sad to see those gorgeous homes get plowed down..
  • agree
    Appreciated intelligence.
  • Do Tell
    In response to C - I do put a lot of faith in IHCDA to develop and administer the program well. But if you have more info about admin costs, demo costs, etc. let's hear it. It's not a big secret, it's our tax dollars. Yeah, the simple division method that yields an outrageously high demo cost per house is obviously not correct, but that's how the number in the article was derived. If IHCDA or someone else at the state wants to provide more info, I'm sure the folks following this thread (and all the papers that picked up the original AP story) would love to hear it. Happy to do my research - who should I call to ask? I think it's kinda dumb for the state to release a dollar amount and the number of houses they hope to demo and not expect people to do the simple math. It invites further explanation.
  • How about a little coordination with demo
    As someone who drives home along New York daily on the way home I have seen some of the demo of homes along Tacoma. I was kinda shocked to see one home be demolished, the excavator/backhoe moved to another site and then 3 days later it show up to demo another home and then disappear again and then 3 days later show up again to demo another home. Wouldn't it have been more time and money conscious to have demolished all the homes on the street at the same time instead of moving the equipment back and forth? There are still homes on that street that need to be demolished.
  • Not so fast...
    Demo is correct...it works, and it is going to be very selective. Do not compare this program to the City of Indianapolis'. Also, you are reading a small snippet of a very detailed program that has been well thought out and guided by multiple public forums and feedback from local governments and residents from across Indiana. Don't make quick assumptions by dividing the number of houses by the total grant dollar. It will give you inaccurate information. Your assumption regarding administrative fees is off also. Please do your research. This is going to be good for Indiana.
    • simple politically correct math
      Since the grant is coming from the Feds to the State, administration at both the Fed and Star will easily eat up 15-20% just to get the money here and account for it. Deciding which cities and counties get it, will take another 5% to figure out. Specifications will have to be written so all bidders will be fair, and be treated fair, add another 5%. Bidders will have to abide by State bidding laws, and the city-county laws of which they are located, another 5%. Minority contractors will be required to be a part of the bid. 10-15% for the DBE's, 5-8% for the WBE's, 3% for the Vets, and of course the contractors have to budget 2%-3% for the political contributions their companies account for, if not more. Permits and Inspections will eat another 3-5%. That gets us closer to the real demolition price of the homes.
      • resaponse to
        Yes, the City of Indianapolis has historically done a horrible job of quantifying and prioritizing which houses should be demo'd. The Rebuild Indy demo money (the 2000 demos we heard so much about) was administered partly by boy-genius Reggie Walton...so that should help to partially explain why the homes demo'd seemed so haphazard and chosen at random. More here http://www.tinyurl.com/mfcdcdemo ...but beyond that the City doesn't seem to have a very solid methodology for determining how to best use the demo tool, partly because Health Department inspectors are often the people out in the field making the calls about which houses should be demo'd. They have no experience, training, or guidance, and simply react to citizen input or pick the low-hanging fruit. City needs to get their arms around this mess.
      • Demo
        Sometimes demo is the only viable solution for houses that 1. haven't been "homes" (occupied) in years) 2. are located in areas where the housing market is not healthy... 3. have been stripped of pipe, wire, furnace, HW heater, etc... 4. may have roof/foundation issues... 5. are contributing to blight and lower property values for neighbors. If private investors can't make the numbers work and there is no angel "urban pioneer" ready to tackle these project houses, there aren't a lot of options. My experience has been that it takes somewhere in the range of $40K - $60K in subsidy to bring these houses back to life and sell them on the market. And that's only if there are other developers or investors (many times a no nonprofit community development corporation) already working in the area. The numbers rarely work for rental investors... So even making the $18K available as subsidy really doesn't change the equation, because many of these places that cities want to demo need much more. I'm not a fan of demo'ing great neighborhood fabric, butI'm also not a fan of years and years of blight/neglect keeping an area from coming back. Demo needs to be selective and well-vetted to be effective.
        • expensive
          Let's say the state keeps 7.5% of the $75M to administer the program (that's $5.6M) Then the average cost of each demo, assuming 4000 homes, drops to $17,343. That's still expensive...considering the City of Indianapolis pays on average about $7500-$8500 for a home demo. Perhaps the state has very stringent requirements - like abating asbestos and/or lead prior to demolition... Cost per demo seems high, but I would love for someone with a better understanding of the numbers to weigh in here...
        • Big Piles of Money
          $18,750 per demolition? That's 2-3 times the cost. Where is the rest of the money going? My experience is that when big piles of money are made available, people and organizations appear to help you spend it. I understand there will be some administrative costs but I hope that includes making the effort to determine which homes truly can not be repaired. Unlike when the City received funds and homes were destroyed that could have been rehabbed.
          • Shame
            If Indiana weren't charging backwards in areas like health care, wages, and civil liberties, perhaps people would want to move here and live in these homes
          • Sad times
            This is so sad. Many of these homes could be rehabilitated and restored to their former glory. This is a terrible waste of taxpayer $$. Put it to rehab programs instead of demolition!

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