DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) - Decatur City Council will vote on the demolition of unsafe structures in the city. 

At Monday night's meeting the Decatur City Council began the process of tearing down blighted structures in the city. In the council memo, 7 buildings are deemed unsafe and need to be demolished. One of those on the list the former ACME building on North Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. 

At Monday night's meeting, the council approved the proposed demolitions. They also gave the green light to $550,000 for the Central Illinois Landbank Authority, which will be used to rehabilitate 10 houses to be sold later. 

"We want our citizens to take pride in their city, so having dilapidated houses on our city block is simply unacceptable," said Councilman David Horn. 

The money used for demolition comes from the general fund, but some grants are used. According to Councilman Horn, grant money for the Johns Hill revitalization project and the American Rescue Plan can be used. 

There are 4,200 vacant properties in the city, Horn told WAND News. To keep pace with blighted homes, the city would need to remove 200 properties a year. 

"Tonight's decision to declare some houses as unsafe and demolish to properties is the step in the right direction, but we are not keeping pace with rate of blight," explained Horn. 

To prevent homes from getting on the list, Block by Block was created to improve curb appeal and community pride. The organization, which was created in 2020, engages residents in the revitalization process. In 2021, the organization was able to assist 14 homeowners. 

"The 13 we did with the City of Decatur was just landscaping upgrades, then we did one refurbished home," explained Ellen Hearn, executive director. 

Hearn said they are assisting homeowners and assured this is a helping hand, not a handout. To learn more about the organization, click here

"There is a list of 200 more homes that want to be part of our projects, so we are building momentum and you can actually see it when you drive through the neighborhood," Hearn said. 

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