DANVILLE — The Central Illinois Land Bank Authority received $180,000 from the Illinois Housing Development Authority’s Abandoned Property Program.

The money will be used for strategic housing demolitions in Westville, Rankin, Georgetown and Ridge Farm.

The land bank received $45,000 for each grant application it submitted for each community.

This grant money builds off CILBA’s $125,000 grant from IHDA’s Strong Communities Program, which it received in Dec. 2020, to move from a reactive to a proactive approach on code enforcement in select communities throughout Vermilion County.

CILBA also wrote an application for Hoopeston and they received a $125,000 grant award that was matched by the Hoopeston Retirement Village Foundation with a $100,000 grant and the city of Hoopeston providing $50,000.

CILBA will work with its member communities to enhance code enforcement and strategically identify vacant or abandoned properties that are in need of repair or demolition.

Westville, Rankin, Georgetown and Ridge Farm are the first member communities to engage in a holistic approach to addressing blighted properties by adopting International Property Maintenance Code and hiring a shared code enforcement officer.

Additionally, Hoopeston and Potomac recently joined this group of land bank members, said Mike Davis, CILBA executive director. By actively pursuing code enforcement, these communities have the opportunity to intervene before properties require legal action or deteriorate beyond the point of repair.

Davis says approaching vacancy and abandonment through this strategy aids CILBA and its member communities in working with the community, residents and homeowners in maintaining and preserving housing rather than waiting for properties to deteriorate to such a point that demolition is the only option.

“Without good code in place and someone to enforce it, I told members that I could be in a position where we could get grant money and not spend it. My hope is to build out better code enforcement infrastructure for whatever members that want to see improvement, identify properties that need help and then go line up the grant money,” according to Davis.

He said they continue to work with member communities to “help them improve their approach to code enforcement.”

Davis said some communities have outdated codes, codes with no teeth and no one to enforce the property maintenance codes.

Grant application maximums were $75,000, up to a total of $300,000 for the four communities. Any amount is better than no grant funding, he said.

Davis added that state Rep. Mike Marron, state Sen. Scott Bennett and Vermilion County leaders, such as Vermilion County Board Chairman Larry Baughn, have all been extremely supportive of this work.

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