March 29, 2018 at Radio Station WUBS
Panelists: Mr. James Mueller, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Ms. Alkenya Aldridge, Ms. Regina Williams-Preston
Moderator: Mr. Nate Levin-Aspenson
* 1,000 homes in 1,000 Days - 1,122 Identified, 689 Demolished, 10 Deconstructed at a $7.5M expense
NOTE: This program was started in February 2013 and ended in September 2015, but with no clear rebuilding plan
* There are 30K less people in South Bend than when these homes were built
* Definition of "Vacant & Abandoned" is unoccupied for 90 days with code violations and there is a public hearing process
* "Need to better support those who need help" & "Open to new ideas on how to handle struggling people"
* Landlords have taken advantage of minorities
* Planning to do a "Disparity Study"
* Expanding "Pathways Program"
* Problems are "Poverty, equality and income"
NOTE: Per capita income in the City of SB is BELOW $20,000
* "Unlocking public value is the answer"
* "Restriping and paving helps stimulate investment"
* Thinks the County needs to Reassess home values
* 80 new homes on the list
* Last year 90% repaired and 10% demolished
* Feds have higher qualifying restrictions than the City for receiving financing
* No intent to go after people's homes, the problem is people take on "money pits"
* We have barriers in zoning codes
NOTE: Council voted to give them 27 areas where they can bypass the Council on zoning issues and rarely does Council vote against a zoning request
* Currently planning to develop the South Shore Track Area
* History of the community is lost when they come down
* South Bend HIP previously had $300K
* Funding will be $650K in 2018 with COIT and EDIT funding, CDBG Funding
* Targeting zones for blight elimination and rehab for current owners
* More people could qualify if they took off the limits of people being in collection and having a bankruptcy within the last 2 years
* "Honor legacy residents" and help educate them on how to care for a home
* "Hurry Home" is a program to move people towards home ownership in homes valued under $50K
* Banks don't like to lend for homes under $50K because they can't make money on them
* Chicago Federal Reserve suggested "Micro Lending"
* "Youth Build" is another program
* "Community Wins" is a grant for minority owned businesses
* Lost industrial job base has caused loss and she wants people to move back to Westside neighborhoods
* We need to build business capacity and infrastructure
NOTE: The City just recently created her position to do outreach to the community on housing issues and have not had a person dedicated to it before in Community Investment Department
* There are no CDC's (Community Development Corporations) on the Westside and non-profits don't have the capacity to help
NOTE: CDC's are a way to move tax funding to programs that rebuild people's homes and neighborhoods
* We need to learn from the past and invest before they get beyond repair to we aren't tearing down history
* Regina is a 3rd generation of the "Better Homes" program
* There need to be historical markers to preserve the African-American history here
* $650K COIT and EDIT funding is not enough for the scope of the problem
* Need to get the word out on how people can qualify
* Most of the properties on the demolition list were NOT tax delinquent. People want to hang on to their "family land"
* Next generation that inherited the homes weren't prepared to take care of homes
* 75% of people owned the homes that were demolished lived here in Indiana
* Code violations are Civil Penalties where people only have 60 days to fix a problem
* Feels City uses aggressive code enforcement and it shouldn't be done in areas with the lowest market strength
* Policy, laws and code are fair but are applied in unfair ways that target people
* Have to look at internal policies and how minorities are targeted
* There needs to be oversight and recourse for Citizens
* Fines not paid are added to property tax amounts, people lose their homes and then the neighborhood becomes gentrified
* Not enough inclusion to teach young black men the trades
* Need to be more concerned about lead testing in homes with older kids and rentals, not just 6 year olds
NOTE: Mayor responded the screening of 6 year olds at schools is to establish a baseline of the studies
* Concerned about gentrification (pushing out lower cost housing to build newer higher cost housing)
NOTE: Mayor responded that "One size doesn't fit all" so he is continuing to study the problems
* Suggested people buy a property, live in it for 6 months and then apply for an equity line of credit
NOTE: Mayor said there is currently a "credit gap"
* Citizen says there is a program by Cass Community Association in Detroit that is addressing the problem well and wants SB to look at what they are doing
* Tired of the Drewrys Property problems and wants City to move faster on it
NOTE: Answer was there are legal issues being resolved. There is no solution at this time and no City budget to deal with it
* Lived 31 years on Freemont and part of the LaSalle Neighborhood Association - wants streets paved, alleys graded
NOTE: The City is systematically closing alleys
* Member of Kennedy Park Neighborhood Association says the root cause of the problem is poverty. There needs to be economic development on the Westside, Community Land Grants and urban agriculture
* Wants to know $'s spent on Westside
NOTE: Answer given was $485K along the corridors leading to downtown. Now that they have re-done downtown they will start to work on "nodes" elsewhere in the City
* Don't see locals as part of this development - don't hire outside people to give advice - ask residents what they want and need
* Abatement accountability is lacking
* Tax credit projects and money is going to millionaires and not helping regular people
MICHIANA OBSERVER COMMENTS:
These are some RESOURCES for Citizens on Housing:
* HUD Certified Housing Counseling 574-235-9475
* Community Homebuyers Program 574-235-5880
* SBHIP South Bend Home Improvement Program 574-235-5880
* Urban Enterprise Association V2V Repair Matching Grant Program 574-235-5879
* Vacant and Abandoned Resident Legal Assistance Program 574-235-5879
* South Bend Heritage 574-289-1066
* Hurry Home Program (in the works with LaCasa de Amistad) 574-233-2120
* Community Wins Program through Wells Fargo CommunityWINS@wellsfargo.com
* Youth Build Program teaches youth skill trades 617-623-9900
* Alkenya Aldridge, Director of Engagement & Economic Empowerment at City of South Bend 574-235-5896
NOTE: In the last ten years there has been $853,431,946 given for business tax abatements on what would have been taxable property for more property tax income
and $6,566,969,016 in TIF's used in the last 10 years. (TIF is Tax Incremental Financing) On average over $700M per year
Source: Page 244 of the City of South Bend Annual Fiscal Report ending 12/31/2016
We have one of the largest TIF areas in the state of Indiana outside Indianapolis. TIF's can be used for business development incentives, as well as, infrastructure such as sewers, roads, etc.
Most recent TIF award in SB was to the Cascades Project across from the Century Center for $5M. This complex will include $1.5M penthouse and $500K condos.
For the Berlin Project, which are the condos outside 4 Winds Field, the Mayor awarded close to $4M in TIF and sold them the property for $2 (two dollars).
For reference, the average total budget for the City of SB is about $310M per year. Mayor has budgeted $650K to help housing issues in 2018.
For more articles and meetings: #MichianaObserver #MySouthBend #CitizenMedia
Citizens attending community events to inform other Citizens.