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Blight grant to target 13 properties

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Evanston aldermen Monday are scheduled to approve a plan to demolish 13 blighted properties in the city with federal funds provided through the Illinois Housing Development Authority.

After the city acquires title to the properties, the $455,000 Blight Reduction Program grant would see ownership of properties transferred to the non-profit Community Partners for Affordable Housing, which would pay for the demolition work with the grant funds.

The city's community development director, Mark Muenzer, says in a memo to aldermen that the plan is to eventually provide new affordable housing units at the demolition sites through Evanston Township High School's Geometry in Construction program or other resources.

Some of the properties involved have been vacant for close to a decade. The program requires that the demolition work be completed by the end of next year. But given that the ETHS program has been producing one new house a year, it could take well over a decade to finish the process of building replacement homes on the properties, unless other solutions are found or the ETHS program can increase its output.

The blight reduction program targets neighborhoods on the west and south sides of Evanston that were particularly hard hit by the mortgage foreclosure crisis that followed last decade's housing market bubble.

The properties on the city's demolition list include 705 and 2027 Brown Ave., 1729, 1739, 1828 and 2020 Dodge Ave., 1319 and 1615 McDaniel Ave., 1333 Dewey Ave., 1006 Florence Ave., 2017 Foster St., 2020 Green Bay Road, and 2224 Washington St. But Muenzer says other properties may be substituted for some of those on the list.

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