Castle Arnold, For The Miami Student

Butler County was recently awarded $1.3 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to help deal with foreclosed homes and vacant buildings in the area.

The money is part of the third round of HUD’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) and Donna Everson, community development director for Butler County, is very excited to get the process rolling.

“The money is supposed to address foreclosed and abandoned properties that are in unsafe conditions, are home to criminal activity and ultimately bring the neighborhood down,” Everson said. “Through NSP we can acquire the property, build new and resell it.”

Butler County received $4.2 million back in 2008 when the first round of NSP, NSP 1, took place, according to Everson. NSP 2 was much more competitive, whereas NSP 1 and 3 were formula based, looking at areas that needed it the most.

“There is a huge spreadsheet outlined by each census block and each one was given a number one through 10, 10 being the worst that needed to be addressed,” Everson said. “So what we did was take the 10s through the sevens and look at how many homes are vacant, unemployment rates, loans, foreclosures and based on that each area was given a ranking.”

Oxford was not given any of the money because they did not achieve a ranking of at least seven out of 10.

“The NSP 3 money is still being decided because it was just awarded a couple weeks ago,” Everson said.

Everson is guessing the requirement will be similar to NSP 1, so the county is planning to continue its demolition program. Successful projects that took place during NSP 1 included an abandoned gas station turned into a park and a vacant building turned into a library and community center in Monroe. At least eight properties were reconstructed and approximately 30 were demolished.

“I think it sounds like a good thing because it’s cleaning up neighborhoods and making them usable again,” Miami University senior Matt Cardone said.

Hamilton was given money during NSP 1, and senior Madison Peterson, a Hamilton resident, thinks they would definitely be able to make use of it again.

“I do know that it sounds like a really good use of the money because Hamilton is not the nicest area,” Peterson said. “There’s a lot of old houses and everything has gone out of business, nothing is there anymore.”

According to the HUD website, Ohio was awarded $51.8 million that was split up through 19 different areas. Along with demolishing foreclosed homes, NSP is giving families receiving homebuyer assistance housing counseling in order to prevent future foreclosures.