City of Quincy, Two Rivers Land Bank get state grants to help address blighted properties

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CHICAGO — The city of Quincy and the Two Rivers Land Bank were among 68 units of local governments and land bank authorities to receive $19 million in grants from the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) Board to support affordable housing and community revitalization efforts across Illinois. 

Awarded under the Strong Communities Program, the initiative provided funding for the acquisition, maintenance, rehabilitation and demolition of abandoned residential properties in their communities. 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.

The IHDA awarded $330,000 to the City of Quincy, which will be used to supplement funding for the city’s fix or flatten program.  Director of Planning Chuck Bevelheimer said he expects the funds to cover 10 to 12 properties, depending on the size of the structure.   

The IHDA awarded $162,000 to Adams County, and the Two Rivers Land Bank will be a third-party administrator. 

The Two Rivers Land Bank, composed of Quincy, Adams County, Jacksonville and Morgan County, helps find buyers for blighted properties for which owners are no longer paying taxes. The land bank is under the direction of Chad Frederick, community development director for Two Rivers Regional Council that covers intergovernmental agreements between Adams, Brown, Pike and Schuyler counties. He said the grant will go toward projects eligible for the land bank.

“These projects will help get abandoned properties and vacant lots in to the hands of people who will help make those properties productive viable parcels,” Frederick said. “All money will be used to help the community grow stronger by helping with the vacant and abandoned property issue.”

Also receiving money through the Strong Communities Program were:

  • Jacksonville, $562,000
  • Carthage, $552,000
  • Macomb, $487,000
  • Pittsfield, $41,000

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

The Strong Communities Program was created in August 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. 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.

“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.”

Strong Communities 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.

The grants are funded by the Rebuild Illinois capital plan. A total of $30 million in grant funding has been awarded through two application rounds. 

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