Indiana cities getting money to fight urban blight

Indianapolis, Lawrence, Gary and two other Indiana cities have received a total of about $15 million to help eliminate blighted and abandoned homes.

The grants from the Hardest Hit Fund Blight Elimination Program are the first round in a six-round series of federal grants that will total $75 million.

Indianapolis has been awarded nearly $6.4 million.

“Indy will use these funds to remove unsightly and unsalvageable abandoned homes, which pose a health and safety risk for residents and attract crime and vandalism,” Mayor Greg Ballard said in a prepared statement. “This is a positive way to improve neighborhood safety and make Indy a better place to live.”

Gary will receive $6.6 million. A team spent several months collecting data on blighted structures throughout the northwest Indiana city.

Lawrence will receive $120,000; East Chicago will get $1.3 million; and Hammond was awarded $615,000.

Officials estimate about 4,000 blighted properties will be torn down across the state.

Besides demolishing vacant and abandoned homes and buildings, the federal program also provides loans to help homeowners avoid foreclosure.

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