The City of Livermore was awarded state block grant funds to demolish and rebuild eight homes next year.

The $734,800 in Community Development Block Grant funds were awarded through the Department for Local Government. Audubon Area Community Services Inc. is sponsoring the program.

Housing Director Barry Johnston wrote and submitted the application for Livermore.

See Livermore/Page A5

Johnston said the process began almost five years ago now when he was an employee with the Green River Area Development District. He said he worked with city officials who were trying to find a way to clean up blighted homes within the city limits. At the time, Johnston said, officials were facilitating another DLG grant program, which excluded the city from being eligible for the block grant funds. This time, however, Johnston said, Livermore was a prime candidate.

Household grant applicants attended a public hearing in May to determine needs for funding. Johnston said state officials weighed factors such as age, poverty and disabilities among applicants against the conditions of their homes to determine which locations would be razed and replaced.

Qualified applicants are 80 percent low-to-moderate income, according to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development income guidelines for McLean County and are in need of at least $20,000 worth of repairs. Johnston said the applicants needed to own the property entirely to be eligible.

Houses will be demolished and trailers will be removed from the property and replaced with a newly constructed home. Replacement homes will be close to 1,100 square feet, Johnston said.

Funding for the homes is provided in the form of 10-year forgivable mortgages. On the anniversary of the funding origin, one-tenth of the mortgage is forgiven. Johnston said homeowners are encouraged to keep their new homes and provide regular upkeep. If they do, the home becomes theirs after the 10-year forgiveness period.

Audubon Area contributed $10,000 to match the projects. Each household will be asked to contribute 100 hours of sweat equity. Hours can be contributed by other family members, friends and/or organizations, nonprofits or otherwise, if needed.

Development block grants like these have replaced six homes in Sacramento and four homes in Calhoun in the last decade.

Johnston said they are important tools to enhancing the value of a home market in a small community, but the concept, he said, goes deeper than that.

“For the City of Livermore, it will enhance the looks of the community, yes,” he said, “but I feel that it will also extend the quality of life for each of the households.”

Mayor Dennis Revlett said the announcement that Livermore would receive the rehabilitation funds came as a pleasant surprise at the right time of the year.

“I told everyone at City Hall that this was the best Christmas present I could have gotten this year,” he said. “I’m so happy for the homeowners who will have new homes.”

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