DECATUR, Ill. (WCIA) — Decatur City Council approved of a plan spending $450,000 for housing repairs Tuesday evening.

The Small Housing Improvement Program is a partnership with the Northeast Community Fund to help homeowners get small grants for home repairs. Eligible homeowners could receive up to $15,000 for repairs.

The program provides small repair grants to owner-occupied residents in low-to moderate-income neighborhoods. City Council called the proposal a “preventative measure.”

“This is an attempt to invest in areas within the urban core that are not eligible for the city owner-occupied rehabilitation program but are areas where City staff is starting to see the first signs of housing decline,” a release from the city reads. “If we do not assist in these areas now, our housing challenges could continue to spread, and more neighborhoods could begin to decline.”

The City council has provided $450,000 to start. If the program proves to be a success, they will consider adding more funding. The program is funded through American Rescue Plan funds and is a part of the city’s Economic and Community Development Department.

Police Changes

The council also approved changes and improvements to the Decatur Police Department at the same meeting. Prior, officers had to live within city limits. Now, officers can live within 40 miles of the DPD headquarters.

Police will be getting a wage increase of 2.25% to 3.25% and a 3% increase by 2024.

The department can employ civilians for law enforcement actions that do not require the employee to be a sworn police officer. The council allocated $130,000 for body cameras and other related equipment. They will also use the funding for a digital evidence system. The city first approved cameras in 2020.

DPD and the Macon County Sheriff’s Office are forming a street crimes task force with an intergovernmental agreement between both parties.

“This arrangement builds on an already-established Narcotics Task Force and will allow DPD and MSO to benefit from each other through equipment, manpower, knowledge, and experience,” a release from the city reads.