Revitalization project underway to tackle run-down homes in Aust - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Revitalization project underway to tackle run-down homes in Austin, Ind.

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Abandoned home set to be demolished in Austin, Indiana. Abandoned home set to be demolished in Austin, Indiana.
Abandoned home set to be demolished in Austin, Indiana. Abandoned home set to be demolished in Austin, Indiana.
Demolition crews clean up demolished homes in Austin, Indiana. Demolition crews clean up demolished homes in Austin, Indiana.

AUSTIN, Ind. (WDRB) - The small city of Austin, Ind., has spent the last year recovering from a rapid HIV outbreak.

"For a couple of years now, we've made the news for all the wrong reasons,” Mayor Dillo Bush said. 

A recent report on the epidemic cites more than 180 cases of HIV in the small Scott County community. 

"Obviously, we have that problem," Bush said. "It's still here. We've not seen any increase in cases. It's stabilized at that number. [It's] an unacceptable number, but it is what it is." 

Medical experts have said an increase in intravenous drug use and needle sharing caused the crisis. A redevelopment project is now officially underway to clean up the city and help keep community health issues under control.

A blight elimination grant from the Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority provided $392,000 to purchase and demolish run-down homes. 

"There will be a total of 20 houses within the next probably two weeks. They all should be down,” said Richie Buchanan, President of Austin Redevelopment Commission. 

The city then owns the vacant land and has plans to develop the properties to enhance neighborhoods. 

“Some of them will just end up being green space," Buchanan said. "Some we'll put restrictions on for certain types of housing, certain size, certain quality, so that if something does go back, it's something that will improve the community."

"We're making the effort, we have some visible result of that effort, and that's very important,” Bush said. "We want our young people especially to proudly say ‘I'm from Austin.' That has not been the case for a long time."

It's possible another 28 homes will come down in Austin as the city recently applied for another blight elimination grant. Awards will be announced, and then we will find out if the city gets approval sometime in late January. 

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