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City of South Bend hopes to double funding for 1,000 houses in 1,000 days initiative

July 30, 2013|By James Fillmore (jfillmore@wsbt.com) | WSBT-TV

SOUTH BEND--  1,000 homes in 1,000 days is a top priority for the city of South Bend in 2014, which is why a preliminary budget calls for doubling the amount that goes in to this initiative.

Under the current budget, $1 million was allocated to address vacant and abandoned homes in the city, and in 2014, South Bend is hoping the City Council will approve $2 million for the effort.

Paula Rogers lives on the corner of Johnson Street and Vassar Avenue. She says, "When you come through here, you see all these abandoned houses, grass that's grown up high because nobody's taking care of them."   

She thinks putting more money toward the initiative will help improve the look and safety of her neighborhood.

She adds, "We love our neighborhood and want to take care of our neighborhood then let the city help us by doing what taking care of the abandoned houses."   

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The controller for the City of South Bend says the $2 million would not come from property taxes.    

Instead, they hope to get the money from the lost recovery fund, which is insurance money the city has at its disposal from previous settlements.   

If approved by the City Council, the money would be used to address vacant and abandoned houses, as needed, meaning some may be demolished while others could be remodeled.

Cedric Beard lives on Adams Street in South Bend and says, "It takes money to get things done, and cleaning up these houses or either tearing them down like you said it would make the block and the neighborhood look better."     

City Controller Mark Neal says the cost of demolition is around $6,000 per house, and remodeling can be even more expensive, so the city is just trying to make sure it can continue with the effort.

Beard says, "Make it a clean lot instead of just a junkyard, you know, because it makes the neighborhood look bad, and it'll get rid of most of these rodents that's living around in these abandoned houses."

Neal adds that they took into account the possibility of finding asbestos in those homes when budgeting double for 1,000 homes in 1,000 days.

The budget has to be approved by the council, and the public will have plenty of opportunities to comment at meetings in August and September.

They expect to have a final budget in October.

The final budget must be approved by November 1.

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