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Lance Spinler and Stacey Jansen stand on the porch of their West Macon Street home. Eight houses on the block were built through funding from the state Attorney General's Office. 

Welcome home. Glad you're settling in.

Let's welcome at least a partial solution to the issue with new houses on West Macon Street, with homeowners taking possession of some of the houses.

Decatur Pilot, the nonprofit development arm of the Decatur Housing Authority, in 2013 received a $1.7 million grant from Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office for construction of housing in Decatur. Funding was part of the national foreclosure settlement Madigan won when she sued the Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank and Ally Bank for their involvement of defrauding the public in the 2008 mortgage crisis. Money was targeted at community revitalization, demolition and other programs, as long as the project was related to the foreclosure of property.

The West Macon Street site was chosen. Delays throughout the project left the houses empty for close to three years. Reduced prices and less onerous requirements have finally led to some of the residences being occupied.

The homes are now being marketed to all buyers, and a major selling point is energy efficiency. One of the new homeowners, Lance Spinler, said, “I have never had this cheap of a utility bill in my life.”

At last, the area is seeing revitalization. The rewards are personal for the homeowners and for the neighborhood and shared across the city. Residents appear fine with an increased property tax, thinking the energy savings will offset their increase, and even embracing the idea that they will be contributing to making the city a better place.

They've also agreed to remain part of the community. One of the requirements for purchase is for buyers to remain in the home for five years and not rent it out. After that amount of time, maybe they need a bigger place or their pride in the neighborhood they've built keeps them there as one of the pillars of the block.

Either way, the result at long last is a group of winners.

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