U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II (Fifth District — Missouri) joined with public and private partners to announce new funding for home rehabilitation and energy conservation in the Green Impact Zone today.

Neighborhoods in the Green Impact Zone have a lower-than-average rate of owner-occupied homes — a problem that has only increased with the recent rise in home foreclosures. Rather than let foreclosed homes sit vacant or sell them to out-of-area investors, Wells Fargo bank announced plans to give back to the community by transferring ownership of 23 foreclosed homes to the Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council Foundation, which will oversee rehabilitation of the properties. Tony Julianelle, area sales manager for Wells Fargo Bank, also announced a cash donation of $7,500 per home — a total of $172,500 — to help with rehabbing and remodeling the homes for Kansas City families.

The city of Kansas City, Mo., will also provide funding to help revitalize neighborhoods in the zone. On Oct. 7, Mayor Mark Funkhouser and the City Council voted unanimously to allocate $500,000 of the city’s $1.8 million Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP3) funds to the Green Impact Zone.

“There are many homes, particularly in the urban core, where the economics of rehab in today’s market do not work,” Cleaver said. “The ability to start the rehab process without having to pay for the homes makes that equation work and will help qualified homebuyers move back into the Green Impact Zone.”

Kelvin Simmons, commissioner of the Missouri Office of Administration, formally announced the launch of the Green Impact Zone Low-Income Weatherization Assistance Program. The Mid-America Regional Council received $4.5 million in federal stimulus funds from the Department of Energy and Missouri Department of Natural Resources to weatherize homes in the Green Impact Zone and the surrounding area. Under the program, 659 homes will be weatherized, which will lower residents’ utility usage and help the environment.

Applicants for the program can visit www.greenimpactzone.org/energy or call 816-701-8300 for more information.

The Green Impact Zone is an area of the urban core stretching from 39th to 51st streets, and Troost to Prospect and Swope Parkway. The Green Impact Zone initiative, which uses federal stimulus funds and innovative partnerships to transform these distressed neighborhoods into a sustainable community, has received national attention as a model for place-based strategies to improve the quality of life in declining neighborhoods.