http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/lake ... f7b2e.htmlGary mayor, HUD officials agree to steer block grants toward demolition work
Gary and federal housing officials are looking for ways to redirect millions of existing federal dollars already flowing to the city for demolishing blighted buildings, the city's mayor said Monday.
Gary Mayor Rudy Clay met Friday in Washington, D.C., with U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, seeking answers to the federal agency's rejection of a city application for $24 million in demolition funds through HUD's Neighborhood Stabilization Program.
U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., criticized HUD earlier this month for passing on Gary's application.
In his Monday statement, Clay described the Friday meeting with Bayh, Donovan and other housing officials as "extremely productive."
He said city leaders hope to shift federal Community Development Block Grant money to begin the demolition work. If all goes well, Clay hopes the progress will lead to more dedication of HUD funds in the future.
Clay said the group pieced together a demolition timetable for ridding the city of some blighted structures and reviewed methods to "reprogram" millions of dollars of Gary's existing federal funds for the process. Clay said he wasn't prepared Monday to be specific regarding where in the city demolition would begin.
"It's possible that work will start in all six of the city's (city council) districts at one time," Clay said.
Clay noted that the group agreed the first $2 million of reallocated funds for demolition must be obligated by Sept. 13.
"The repositioning of funds is the first step in a process that will lead toward more demolition and toward building a city worthy of the great people of Gary," Clay said in the prepared release.
City officials have deemed demolishing abandoned houses and other crumbling structures as the first key step in opening the door for more development and prosperity in the city, which long has struggled from population decline that has left behind a bloated municipal framework too large to efficiently serve taxpayers.
Remember a few years ago when Gary announced it couldn't pay it's firefighters yet Rudy found money to underbid private citizens on tax sale properties? I asked where the money to demo or rehabilitate those buildings would come from. Now we know. It's coming from everybody's pocket, just like I thought it would.