FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Residents of some of Springfield’s oldest neighborhoods will soon have the opportunity to get reimbursed up to $2,500 for sprucing up the outside of their homes – the only catch is that they have to work together to do it.
At a ribbon cutting and open house today at its new offices at 1409 W. Sunshine, new nonprofit Restore SGF announced its first program to encourage reinvestment and improve neighborhood conditions: a block grant program where neighbors work in teams to create a chain reaction of improvements.
Homeowners in Woodland Heights, Grant Beach, Doling Park east of Robberson Avenue, Fassnight and Meador Park east of National Avenue, can apply to participate in Restore SGF’s Block Challenge Grant Program, which reimburses neighbors up to $2,500 to fix exterior maintenance issues, get a fresh paint job, add curb appeal or make other exterior improvements.
Here’s how it works.
- Almost any exterior home improvement project that can be seen from the street is eligible for reimbursement, up to $2,500.
- Neighbors work in teams of five to 19.
- Participants must be able to see their next team member’s home from their front porch or a few steps just beyond. (They are not necessarily next-door neighbors.) If you stand on your porch, can you see the next closest team member’s home? If so, your team is forming the way it should.
- Neighbor teams of five to nine persons are eligible for up to $1,000 reimbursement per member. Neighbor teams of 10 to 19 are eligible for up to $2,500 reimbursement per member.
- Each team member must be the homeowner, and the owner of record. (Contract for deed properties are not allowed.) The team member must be current on their property taxes.
- The exterior of the property must be in compliance with all City of Springfield property maintenance codes.
- Examples of eligible projects include (but are not limited to):
- Concrete work (driveways, sidewalks, front steps)
- Exterior painting
- Siding (home or garage)
- Roofing (home or garage)
- Window repair or replacement
- Storm windows.
- Teams submit applications to Restore SGF staff for approval. This includes a group application and every individual team member’s completed Scope of Work form, “before” photos and contractor bids (if applicable).
- Staff reviews the projects and renders a decision, usually within two weeks.
- Once the project is completed, the team member fills out the reimbursement form, attaches receipts, invoices and “after” photos, and submits to Restore SGF. Only materials and/or work purchased after approval can be submitted for reimbursement.
- Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, Sept. 15 to Dec. 1.
“I see this Block Challenge Grant program being a great incentive for neighbors to do the upgrades on their homes they have been dreaming of doing and the team approach will strengthen neighborhoods as neighbors work together,” said Neighborhood Advisory Council Chair Becky Volz. A longtime Woodland Heights resident, Volz serves as president of the Woodland Heights Neighborhood Association president and is on the board of directors for Restore SGF.
How were the neighborhoods selected?
A selection committee comprised of Restore SGF board members spent considerable time evaluating the neighborhoods in each of the City’s four City Council zones. Factors considered included:
- Historic features/preservation
- Community assets within or on the periphery
- Median income
- Housing market is neither in-demand nor rapidly declining
- 50/50 owner/renter mix
- Neighborhood organizations with strong leadership
- Willingness to be open to nationally trending housing solutions
- New large public and/or private investment
- Generally acceptable housing condition but lacks features/updates for today’s home buyers
- Average number of vacant properties
- Average crime rate
- Desirable nearby amenities (parks, trails, renovated or rebuilt schools, commercial districts)
- Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) credit for contributing financial institutions.
- Current conditions and opportunities noted from a driving tour conducted from a recent City housing study
- Current and future investments
“We believe that neighborhood revitalization must go beyond the demolition of condemned homes,” said Restore SGF Interim Director Dana Elwell. “This is why we’re focusing on what we’ve identified as ‘middle market’ neighborhoods – those that are neither the strongest nor the weakest in the Springfield housing market.”
As the strategy proves successful over time, Restore SGF hopes to expand the boundaries of its programming areas and make more neighborhoods eligible for funding with a goal of diverse, mixed-income neighborhoods with rising home prices and a variety of housing options.
The Block Grant Program is just the beginning. Restore SGF plans to launch a homeowner renovation program and a down payment assistance program, Elwell said.
About Restore SGF
Restore SGF was formed to breathe new life into Springfield’s core neighborhoods after decades of disinvestment.
An initial $1.3 million investment from the City of Springfield ($1 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds and a $300,000 FY 2023 budget allocation), plus $1.89 million in investments from Community Foundation of the Ozarks and several area financial institutions allowed the organization to get on its feet. Interim Executive Director Dana Elwell was hired in July.
"As community members, business owners, and citizens of Springfield, it’s important we all take pride in our city and work toward improvements that impact our overall quality of life here in the Ozarks,” said Joselyn Baldner, Restore SGF board member and president/CEO of Central Bank of the Ozarks. “Restore SGF aims to do just that by bringing together neighbors and local organizations to reinvest in historic neighborhoods. It is only together that we can make every part of our city the best it can be."
- Joselyn Baldner: president/CEO of Central Bank of the Ozarks
- Andrew Doolittle: developer, broker and investor, Everett Homes
- Amy Blansit: CEO, Drew Lewis Foundation
- Brian Fogle: president, Community Foundation of the Ozarks
- Rusty Worley: former Neighborhood Advisory Council chair and executive director of the Downtown Springfield Association
- Adrianna Bruening: REALTOR
- Becky Volz: NAC chair
- Heather Hardinger: City Councilwoman
- Richard Ollis: Former City Councilman
- Andrea Brady: community outreach and development manager, Great Southern Bank
- John Everett: president and CEO, Legacy Bank & Trust.
How to apply for the Block Challenge Grant Program
Contact Dana Elwell at 417-986-6970 or [email protected] or visit restoresgf.com.
For more information, contact Dana Elwell at 417-986-6970.