Muskegon will receive a $250,000 grant towards the blight fight in the Nelson, Jackson Hill, and Nims neighborhoods

Residents in the Nelson, Jackson Hill and Nims neighborhoods will soon see the fight against blight in a tangible way with help from the Blight Elimination Program.

According to the City of Muskegon’s recent grant application, the demolitions taking place with these grant funds will be completed within one year of the grant award.

The project proposal says this grant will help demolish 33 of the 50-75 residential properties targeted in the city’s Blight Fight program that began two years ago.

“Removing blighted structures sends a message of investment, not only to neighborhood residents but the larger community,” said Sen. Goeff Hansen, R-Hart. “This funding will assist the City of Muskegon in its efforts to revitalize neighborhoods and encourage economic development.”

The application states that “the primary hurdles the City faces in efforts to rejuvenate these areas are lack of funding to demolish the vast number of dangerous structures that exist and lack of market-rate housing being built in the neighborhoods.”

Muskegon’s Neighborhood Housing Improvement Program was endorsed by the City Commission in May 2015 andwill focus on identifying existing dangerous/blighted buildings, demolishing the structures and building new market-rate replacement housing, in a targeted fashion. The application outlines the program focus as preparing sites for construction, removing dead trees and completing related neighborhood improvements specifically intended to improve the quality of life for neighborhood residents.

It is estimated to take eight-plus years to realize the vision of the program.

“Residents and community leaders of the City of Muskegon are working hard to revitalize their community, and they deserve help. I’m grateful the City of Muskegon will be getting these funds, which will help get rid of dilapidated structures and pave the way for new development,” said Rep. Hovey-Wright, D-Muskegon.

This grant is funded through a portion of Michigan’s Homeownership Protection Fund that was appropriated to MSHDA in 2012 and repurposed last year to continue to address blight elimination needs across the state.

County Land Banks and local units of government statewide were invited to apply for up to $250,000 in assistance during this round of funding. Forty-nine applications were submitted, requesting more than $8 million to fight blight. Three different groups scored each application and the combined scores were used to select the 19 grant recipients.

Proposals were evaluated by representatives from MSHDA and the Michigan Land Bank Authority based on their anticipated impact on public safety, stabilizing property values and enhancing economic development. Public and private investment in the project and alignment with a local place plan or other placemaking effort were also factors.

Eligible projects were required to involve demolition of blighted buildings in business districts, downtowns, or commercial corridors; full or partial demolition of commercial buildings that are part of a development project with funding commitments and/or involve demolition of blighted residential structures.

The following cities received grant funds through the Blight Elimination Program:
• Genesee County Metropolitan Planning Commission; preliminary award amount $250,000
• City of Mt. Pleasant; preliminary award amount $250,000
• Marquette County Land Bank; preliminary award amount $223,250.00
• City of Battle Creek; preliminary award amount $250,000
• City of Harbor Beach; preliminary award amount $150,000
• Kent County Land Bank Authority; preliminary award amount $50,000
• City of Springfield ; preliminary award amount $135,000
• City of Dowagiac; preliminary award amount $250,000
• City of Monroe; preliminary award amount $200,000
• City of Muskegon; preliminary award amount $250,000
• City of Bay City; preliminary award amount $250,000
• Berrien County Community Development; preliminary award amount $250,000
• City of Manistique; preliminary award amount $201,550
• City of Kalamazoo; preliminary award amount $217,350
• City of Alpena; preliminary award amount $245,000
• City of Ypsilanti; preliminary award amount $250,000
• Clare County Community Development; preliminary award amount $157,500
• City of Coldwater; preliminary award amount $65,250
• Village of Marcellus; preliminary award amount $155,100

The Blight Elimination Program has funded approximately $25 million in demolition projects dating back to 2012 and has applied the newly repurposed $3.8 million to continue efforts to demolish vacant and abandoned structures in Michigan.

“By investing in blight elimination we are investing in the future of Michigan,” said Kevin Elsenheimer, executive director at MSHDA. “Eliminating blighted properties promotes public safety, stabilizes property values and enhances economic development opportunities.”
The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) provides financial and technical assistance through public and private partnerships to create and preserve decent, affordable housing for low- and moderate-income residents and to engage in community economic development activities to revitalize urban and rural communities.*

*MSHDA’s loans and operating expenses are financed through the sale of tax-exempt and taxable bonds as well as notes to private investors, not from state tax revenues. Proceeds are loaned at below-market interest rates to developers of rental housing, and help fund mortgages and home improvement loans. MSHDA also administers several federal housing programs. For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/mshda.