$250,000 grant for homes in Benton Harbor announced by Granholm


BENTON HARBOR, Mich. -- A $250,000 state grant will finance the construction of four new homes on and near the site of a deadly motorcycle accident that sparked two nights of rioting.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm visited this southwestern Michigan city yesterday to announce the housing project, transfer property to the city, visit area schools, and meet with local officials.

The governor said it was necessary for the houses to be built at the site where Terrance Shurn died during a high-speed police chase in June.

"To have these homes built here is an important statement that this community is stepping forward and not moving backward," Ms. Granholm said during a groundbreaking ceremony at the site.

The Michigan State Housing Development Authority will provide the money for construction. Cornerstone Alliance, a local economic development organization, and Chemical Bank will provide low-interest loans to prospective homeowners.

Families that lost their homes in the June 16-17 rioting following Mr. Shurn's death will be given priority to purchase the houses, said Lisa Lehman, community development specialist at MSHDA.

Ms. Lehman also announced Habitat for Humanity will build a new home in the area.

Also yesterday, Ms. Granholm signed over 29 acres of former Michigan Department of Transportation property to the city, which is to use it for a waterfront-development project.

The land transfer is part of an initiative to provide Benton Harbor with public-access areas on Lake Michigan and the Paw Paw and St. Joseph rivers.

The land was made available following a reconstruction project along Michigan 63. Cornerstone, Benton Harbor-based appliance maker Whirlpool Corp., and the neighboring city of St. Joseph covered the costs associated with the transfer.

Ms. Granholm also spoke to several hundred students during an assembly at Benton Harbor High School, where she recognized young people who took part in a summer jobs program.