The Legacy Foundation recently announced a grant to the City of Ottumwa to provide additional resources to the Placarded Homes Program. This $400,000 grant, coupled with the already earmarked $600,000 from the City of Ottumwa will allow for a significant reduction in the number of blighted and unsafe homes in the community.
This has been an ongoing struggle for the city that has been compounded by the lack of resources to combat it. Adding to the challenge is the age of Ottumwa’s housing stock as age can be a contributing factor in the overall condition of the home. Three-quarters of Ottumwa’s homes were built prior to 1960 and nearly half were built before 1939. Repairs in an older home can be very costly and often delayed, adding to a neglectful condition or appearance. “Allowing homes to remain in a condition that is unsafe or blighted in appearance sends a message that we don’t care about our own community,” stated Kelly Genners, VP of Programs for the Legacy Foundation. “This message translates not only to those who may be visiting our City but also to our fellow residents who take great care to tend to their properties and their neighborhoods.”
Significant progress has already been made with this program, which at its highest, included 194 homes but at the end of December included only 123 homes. Not all placarded homes must be demolished, some have the capacity to be rehabilitated and have been successfully in the past. “The City will continue to pursue both repair of placarded houses and demolition in order to reduce the number of placarded houses in Ottumwa,” stated Jody Gates, administrator of the Placarded Homes Program. “When demolition is viewed as the best means to eliminate a placarded house, this grant from the Legacy Foundation provides additional resources to aid in removing neighborhood blight.”
In addition to the removal of these unsightly properties, multiple efforts are underway by various community partners to increase the number of new housing developments in the area. Decreasing the number of unfit homes while simultaneously adding new housing starts will provide much more attractive options for Ottumwa residents and those considering relocation to the community.