(Joplin, MO) – To help address declining neighborhoods in Joplin, the City of Joplin is pleased to announce several new positions have been added to the Neighborhood Services Division, Building Division, and Planning Division. during a City-driven listening tour held in 2020, citizens noted some neighborhood areas needed improvements, stating that this was an important issue for Joplin.
“During the survey process, residents stated their concern about cleaning up neighborhoods, neglected properties, and dilapidated structures scattered throughout Joplin,” said Troy Bolander, who manages these divisions as the Director of Planning, Development, and Neighborhood Services.
Utilizing this input, the City Council established six goals, including Addressing Declining Neighborhoods. City staff developed nearly a dozen Action Plans outlining programs and processes to focus on neighborhood clean-up, housing revitalization, and additional neighborhood services to cover the city more efficiently. Plans included hiring a Neighborhood Services Supervisor and two more Code Enforcement Officers for this division.
A community with safe, strong, and vibrant neighborhoods begins with the work of the Neighborhood Services Division. Officers conduct routine inspections throughout neighborhoods to ensure City Property and Nuisance Codes are being followed. They respond to neighbors’ requests to check on complaints and work to educate the public about appropriate property upkeep. Officers also engage individuals and work with neighborhood groups, churches, and businesses in volunteer opportunities, while focusing resources on infrastructure improvements in targeted Neighborhood Improvement Districts.
Bolander noted that prior to the two new hires, three Enforcement Officers were responsible for all of Joplin. “Joplin is over 40 square miles and additional staff was needed to be more effective in monitoring properties throughout the City as well as working with neighborhood communities in a collaborative effort.”
In the past, the City worked in community areas to initiate a Neighborhood Improvement Program creating a partnership with citizens to develop a plan of public repairs, maintenance, and improved communications with City officials.
“It really was a successful program for both our citizens and the City,” he said. “Citizens take an active role in their neighborhood by working with the City. They help to gather fellow neighbors and encourage their involvement to learn more about different resources the City can offer and help identify infrastructure needs or public safety issues.”
For easier access to talk with the Neighborhood Services Division, their offices have been moved to the first floor of Joplin City Hall. They are in the northwest corner of the lobby.
Other Action Plans to address declining neighborhoods include implementing programs to help with home repairs and maintenance, as well as processes to reduce the number of vacant and dangerous buildings in Joplin.
Two Building Inspectors and an Administrative Assistant have been hired in the Building Division to help with the current workload and to assist in implementing these programs effectively. A Lead Inspector was also hired to ensure consistency with inspections and permitting processes. A Project Coordinator in the Planning Division was added and will direct various community programs for the City.
Funding for these Action Plans comes from revenues from the Use Tax that Joplin voters approved in November 2021. Other funding assistance will help establish several programs for the City’s Affordable Housing Preservation initiative, with a similar focus to improve our neighborhoods and clean up areas of neglect and disrepair.
The City was recently awarded a $3.5 million grant from the Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) through their Community Revitalization Grant Program. As part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), this program is focused on investing in communities of all sizes to support local priorities, encourage economic recovery, and build resilience for the future.
With the City’s ARPA match contribution of $3.5 million, the City will have $7 million committed to community revitalization and establish several programs, including:
- $2 million for minor home repairs, defined as no more than $40,000 per household;
- $2 million for demolition of dangerous structures; and
- $3 million for down payment assistance, and closing costs, defined as no more than 20% and not to exceed $40,000 per applicant.
More details about each of these areas will be announced in late summer or early fall so residents will understand if they qualify and how they can apply. The newly hired Project Coordinator will manage these areas along with some of the other new staff members.
For questions about these new programs, please contact Johan Bullington, Assistant Director of Planning, Development and Neighborhood Services at 417.624.0820, ext. 1571.
Johan Bullington, Assistant Director of Planning, Development and Neighborhood Services
City of Joplin
417.624.0820, ext. 1571