The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

April 28, 2013

City's program invests in the future


Commercial-News

DANVILLE — Danville officials want to spend a considerable amount of money from their Community Development Block Grant to pay for housing updates in the Vermilion Heights neighborhood.

Those who receive the assistance — most often fundamental repairs such as roof replacement and new furnaces — must own their homes and fall within certain income guidelines.

In many case, the recipients are senior citizens who still live in their homes but can no longer physically or financially maintain them as they should.

Now, there will be those who say local government has no place in paying for these repairs. It’s a fair argument, but consider the alternative.

If these repairs are not made, the deterioration of these buildings likely will continue for years to come.

As John Dreher, the city’s neighborhood development manager, said in a storyin today’s edition: “Many of our homes (that qualify for the program) are demolition avoidance.”

Since 2006, the city has demolished 180 buildings, with 162 of them houses.

Dilapidated houses not only create eyesores in neighborhoods, the become health and safety hazards and pull down the value of surrounding property.

Lower property values means less revenue from property taxes, which pays for many city services and local schools.

Making repairs on these houses might mean a short-term cost for taxpayers, but it prompts long-term gain for the community in terms of jobs for the repair workers and the continued value of the structures that can be sold to new families instead of torn down.

Not every government program is worth the taxpayers’ dollars spent on it. This isn’t one of them.  The Community Development Block Grant program repays the city and taxpayers in many ways.