Fix or flatten continues in Quincy

Many older river towns here in the Midwest have issues with older built homes falling into disrepair.

Some communities are active in trying to rid their communities of the blight while others just turn a blind eye to the issue.

The City of Quincy has taken a proactive stance against the blight in their community through a program that started back in 1995.

So on a beautiful winter-like day, the director of planning for the City of Quincy is hoping this house on North 10th Street turns out to be a beauty as well.

It's one of the houses on the city's fix or flatten list and this house has been designated to be fixed. The program started back in 1995 and through the years, the city has targeted over 35 properties as being blighted. Of those, 19 have been fixed and 17 have been flattened with either a new house being built or the vacant lot being sold.

"We've invested significantly, the community has, certainly the city has, we have private contractors who done that. We have gone after a lot of grant money to rehab existing buildings and in some cases under the Neighborhood Stabilization Program, we've tore down a number of buildings. So I think if you look at what we've done, you can see we've done a significant progress in rebuilding older homes in older neighborhoods," Quincy director of Planning Chuck Bevelheimer said.

Over that time frame the city has seen just under three million dollars spent on either building new houses or seeing houses fixed. The money is federal tax dollars that are administered by the state. Private contractors put up a percentage of money on their own and in turn get a loan to rehab certain houses that have been targeted. If the contractor rents the house to low and moderate income families for at least five years, that loan turns into a grant. It's something the city has seen a benefit from.

"If you talk to the alderman in the first and seventh wards and the second and sixth wards, who have dealt with these issues they get constituents calling them complaining about the properties. They want to see results," Bevelheimer said.

And those results are houses that have been targeted by the city and are either on the list or have already been taken care of and that's something the city hopes will continue.

Bevelheimer also said the city has about $75,000 to $80,000 in the annual budget to fund the fix or flatten program.

The money helps pay for demolitions, legal counsel and legal notices and court filing fees.

He said if the city didn't pursue blighted property the cost to the city would easily reach into six figures.