Meetings set, tax credits available for 48-unit complex
ROSA SALTER RODRIGUEZ | The Journal Gazette
The Fort Wayne Housing Authority is advancing a development project that would expand a new approach to solving the problem of chronic homelessness in Fort Wayne.
River’s Edge would include 48 apartment-style units on land along Spy Run Avenue Extended south of the intersection of Parnell Avenue, said George Guy, the housing authority’s chief executive officer and executive director.
Two public meetings on the project are scheduled in the next two weeks.
The project is considered permanent supportive housing, a type for which federal tax credits for developers recently have become more available. Recognition is growing that many homeless people need more than a temporary roof over their heads to avoid returning again and again to living on the street.
“The idea about permanent supportive housing is that housing should be provided with other supportive services,” said Andrew Downs, an IPFW political science professor who serves as president of the housing authority board.
“It’s recognizing that for someone who might be homeless housing is, of course, an issue, but so also might be disability or drug addiction or mental illness or (other problems),” he said.
Permanent supportive housing comes with services such as counseling, employment training or other assistance and case management that can help keep people in a stable housing situation as they work on their other issues, Downs said. The supportive programming can be either on-site or off-site, he said.
River’s Edge would house single men and women who have been or face the prospect of becoming chronically homeless. Partners or roommates might receive favorable consideration.
The housing authority has become a partner with UP Development, a company based in Chicago that has worked on permanent supportive housing there and in Muncie. Park Center will provide the supportive programming, Guy said.
He also said the public meetings are required by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, the distributor of the tax credits. The meetings “are designed to be informational to the community,” Guy said, and will take place at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday and Dec. 14 at the housing authority office, 7315 Hanna St.
Meetings are also ongoing with the area’s neighborhood groups, he added.
The housing authority has an option to buy the approximately 2.75-acre tract, which is to the south of The Summit apartment complex on the west side of Spy Run Extended, contingent on receiving necessary approvals. The property is already zoned for multi-family residential use, he said.
But developers will need to submit a development plan and possibly requests for variances from city planning officials.
Tax credits are awarded based on a competitive process. The project is one of four chosen for further consideration by the state’s tax-credit administration agency, the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority. The project also received a recommendation from Mayor Tom Henry’s administration, Guy said.
“This is not last-resort housing,” Guy said. Tenants would sign a lease and undergo a background check, which could include an addiction or criminal history. However, sex offenders would not be permitted, he said.
Denise Andorfer, a member of the Fort Wayne Area Planning Council on Homelessness, said that group heard a presentation on the project earlier this year. The group also has identified chronic homelessness as a local problem.
Andorfer, the executive director of Fort Wayne’s Vincent Village, which also works to combat homelessness, said permanent supportive housing usually accepts only those coming out of an emergency shelter.
Tenants don’t usually come out of transitional housing programs for the homeless such as those run by her agency.
Those programs recently have suffered deep funding cuts, she said.