A potential neighborhood-financing program was introduced at a city council work session last week. The session provided council members an opportunity to hold a preliminary discussion on a program that would spark re-investment in Davenport neighborhoods.
The financing program would be open to individuals of all income brackets and would offer forgivable loans for renovation work at properties. The program could create sustainable economic diversity by increasing homeownership in neighborhoods. The method would support home purchase and rehabilitation in selected areas of the city. A number of action items were proposed for the initial review.
The main idea is to save our older central city neighborhoods. Davenport's older neighborhoods have a great deal of character and are some of the most significant historic areas in the state. These neighborhoods are at a crossroads.
We can take action and save a decaying asset, where infrastructure is already in place or we can stand on the sidelines and hope for the best. I prefer a proactive approach. The program is similar to the NFC in Des Moines. The NFC features a partnership with local lending institutions, Polk County, and the City of DM.
I initially began researching this idea following a visit to the Neighborhoods USA Conference in May. In the ensuing months I have recruited staff to help introduce this idea to neighborhood leaders, the NHS, the Scott Co. Housing Board, local banks, and the county. It is my hope that the council moves forward with this program and that the bankers and county comes along with the concept.
In Des Moines over $120-million has been invested and over 2000 homes have benefited from some much needed renovation since the early 1990's. The entities in DM each commit $1-million per year. DM bonds this out on an annual basis. The NFC is a 501(c)3 and features a board made up of lenders, housing officials, neighborhood leaders, and city/county staff.
In Davenport, a smaller city, an amount around $500,000 each should come close to having a similar impact. It is my belief that people belong to their neighborhoods first, before they belong to their city/state, etc. With a little extra support, maybe we can turn a corner and make some significant change.
Of course, the obvious question is the crime in our city. In order to truly make this program work, we would need to turn the tide on crime concurrently. Adding more NETS officers (a proactive approach to community policing that is working) would be key. Chief Bladel's new juvenile program would help as well. It is early in the process and I welcome any comments, ideas, or suggestions.
I have more information on my website with links to staff documents and the DM program: click here
Thanks to Bruce Berger, Clayton Lloyd, and Craig Malin for their initial assistance and for others in the community for considering support for this proposal.