Syndicated by: Montana News
by: Donald Cypners Investigative reporter
In a press release the City of Minot’s new Neighbor Next Door initiative has successfully assisted in the sale of 15 properties.
John Zakian, Minot’s Disaster Resilience Grant Program Manager and Chief Resilience Officer, said the city’s Neighbor Next Door initiative is patterned after programs used by many Housing and Urban Development grantees which have acquired properties as part of an effort to rid neighborhoods of spot blight and then offer the cleared properties to adjacent property owners to be maintained.
“There are two primary goals for the city’s Neighbor Next Door program,” Zakian said. “Those goals are to restore the properties to private ownership and to assure these properties are maintained in a manner which contributes to the stability of the neighborhood while supporting flood mitigation strategies.”
The properties in Minot’s program were not acquired using HUD funds, but were acquired by the city through various state grant programs received between 2013 and 2016. The properties acquired included homes which had been seriously damaged during the 2011 flood and the property owners did not have the financial means to rehabilitate the homes.
Zakian said Federal Emergency Management Agency encourages cities that have suffered through massive flooding to promote programs and initiatives in a post flood environment that result in reducing damage from future flooding. By promoting the Neighbor Next Door program, which does not allow structures to be built on the parcels, the city is using a proactive approach to meet FEMA’s goals.
“Returning these properties to private ownership both encourages private property owners to maintain these properties in productive ways while removing maintenance and related obligations by the City, thus reducing city operating costs,” Zakian said.
Some properties were held out of this initial auction of 15 at the request of Public Works because of the possibility of uses related to flood control projects, but if it is determined that those properties are no longer needed for flood control, they will be added to the Neighbor Next Door initiative and auctioned.