By Andrew Sullender for Sprinfield News-Leader
A municipal program aimed at restoring houses and increasing homeownership in Springfield could get a financial boost with an Iowa-based initiative as a road map.
At a Tuesday council meeting, Community Foundation of the Ozarks President Brian Fogle pledged $600,000 to the Restore SGF plan, which is also asking for a $1 million commitment from the city out of the city’s $40 million in federal coronavirus aid.
According to a city press release, Restore SGF partners with the city to “stimulate the creation of rehabilitation incentives, provide resources to reduce barriers to home ownership and reinvestment in Springfield’s historic neighborhoods.”
Earlier this summer, City Council members Richard Ollis, Abe McGull and Heather Hardinger visited Des Moines to learn about Invest DSM, after which Restore SGF is based. At their weekly Tuesday lunch, director of Invest DSM Amber Lynch told city leaders how Springfield could follow their model.
Founded in 2019, Invest DSM uses block grants and other investments to restore Des Moines homes and increase property values.
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Lynch said her group surveyed more than 90,000 residential properties to discover which homes would benefit from investment. After categorizing homes into five groups from most to least in need, Lynch said they focused on “middle neighborhoods.” These homes were “vulnerable to decline but still recoverable for a reasonable cost.”
“Overall, what we’re trying to accomplish is a little bit of catching up. The properties of these neighborhoods have been undervalued for years, so we’re trying to correct that depreciation,” Lynch said. “Not just make modest adjustments here and there on a scattered basis but really in a concentrated manner — those impacts start to snowball, and we start to see values could come back to where they should be and then incrementally over time against those property owners get a return on their investment.”
With a $5 million budget for its first few years, Invest DSM was able to provide $1.51 in value for homeowners for every dollar invested by the city and its partners, according to Lynch.