Vacant homes create blight challenges

Vacant, run-down homes can be a blight on a neighborhood, affecting the value of adjacent homes that are occupied.

The federal government a few years ago came out with the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) in recognition of the blight. NSP grants were given to some cities to purchase vacant, foreclosed homes and either rehabilitate them for resale or demolish them.

The city of Princeton received an NSP grant in April 2009 for $796,254. The city, with Lakes & Pines Community Action Council administering the grant, acquired seven residential properties.

Of those, the city rehabilitated four of the homes to resell, demolished two more single-family residences and started a redevelopment project at the seventh property.

Of the two single-family dwellings the city had demolished, the city split the one lot and donated the resulting two lots to the East Central Minnesota Habitat for Humanity affiliate, which then built two Habitat homes.

The second property where a house demolition took place, is still held by the city for use in improving drainage in the area.

The last mentioned property acquired through the grant was the former Arcadian Homes complex along West Branch Street. The three Arcadian Homes structures with their 12 rental units had gone into foreclosure. They were not maintained properly at that point and were vacated after being deemed unfit for human habitation. The city purchased the property from a bank, had the buildings destroyed and the land cleared for planned redevelopment. The Central Minnesota Housing Partnership has been selected to do that project.