Tami Wessel, mayor of Brookport, was pleased to have received word from Tara Huffman, of Southern Five, that Brookport was awarded $175,000 from the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) through the Strong Communities Program (SCP).
“Tara and I worked four days on this grant, and it was the first grant application in which I was personally involved. It felt really good to have received it, especially since I only have four months left in my administration,” she said.
Wessel had been keeping a list of properties that needed attention since 2017. The list of 175 was narrowed down to 75 for the grant. The fact that the city had cleaned several properties was helpful in reaching the 100 point requirement. Many properties were in disrepair and the owners just couldn’t afford to either rehabilitate or tear down on their own.
Realizing that $175,000 will not cover all 75 properties, Wessel had a few priorities. One was to fill an open cistern and another was to attend to several properties on Crockett Street.
“Residents had asked for help many times, and this would be an opportunity to remove some condemned houses and increase property values in that area,” Wessel said.
The city council will make decisions soon. The mayor is hoping that some church members will get involved in portions of cleanup, which will stretch the grant money further. Any volunteers will be helpful, and city workers would also be available for maintenance. Landowners would have to sign a form giving permission for work to be done at no cost to them, and they would still retain ownership.
State Rep. Patrick Windhorst (R-Metropolis), stated: “Building new housing, demolishing blighted properties and maintaining our existing housing infrastructure are all expensive. The financial relief coming to Brookport through IHDA’s Strong Communities Program is a critical investment at a crucial time for the future of affordable housing for Brookport, the citizens of Massac County and for all southern Illinosians who will see positive impacts from this funding. I will continue to push IHDA to invest in Southern Illinois to ensure our citizens have access to quality, safe, sustainable and affordable housing.”
Cairo, Dongola, Harrisburg, Mound City and Ullin were also recipients of the program as well as others.