Nonprofits Add Affordable Housing Options

Habitat for Humanity houses in Crown Hill Neighborhood. NNDC photo.

Midtown embraces housing built specifically for low-income households as part of an equitable development strategy to sustain mixed-income neighborhoods.

From its Midtown headquarters on Washington Boulevard, the Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership (INHP) helps increase affordable housing options for low- and moderate-income families in Marion County. “The City will never have enough resources, and the private market is not delivering affordable units to keep up,” said Joe Hanson, INHP’s executive vice president of capital development and strategic initiative. “It costs the same to build an affordable unit as it does to build a market rate unit but with no return.”

He said the community development financial institution doesn’t build units but rather provides financing to qualified nonprofits to acquire properties. It also purchases properties. In July, for example, INHP acquired several abandoned parcels in the Crown Hill neighborhood from Renew Indianapolis, the City’s land bank. “We’re going to build single-family homes,” Hanson said.

Even though some plots might have structures on them, he added, “By the time we get them in our hands, all will be vacant lots. We’re hiring Near North Development Corporation (NNDC) to develop them with us to insure that whatever is built is consistent with neighborhood priorities and plans.”

NNDC executive director Michael Osborne said the organization functions as the development agent. “We seek proposals from builders, select properties, manage construction, market the opportunities, and handle the closing transactions,” he said. This is an extension of the relationship the organization has with INHP. “They have additional funds to invest in affordable homes. We acquire properties and they acquire properties, so we essentially pool our subsidy funds,” he said.

During the past decade, Osborne said his nonprofit has focused on single-family home redevelopment in the Crown Hill neighborhood. The total now exceeds 100 new homes. “That’s 100 new families who are now invested and can be part of the neighborhood,” he said.

“Our work is about investing in neighborhoods and community and people who deserve equal opportunity,” Osborne said. The next round of building will include 17 homes for people earning 80% area median income (AMI) or less. “We’re building 10 with INHP, one on our own, and six more with Habitat for Humanity.”

While the majority of Near North’s work is centered on Crown Hill, Osborn said one home is located in the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood: “We’re going to turn the home at 3800 Graceland over in ownership to INHP.”

One indicator of success is that homeowners helped by the programs during the past decade are still living in the area. “I think there are two who have sold homes and actually in both cases, it involved moving up,” Osborn said. “It’s not an issue of people flipping houses, or people getting in over their heads.” Both were market transactions—in other words, not subsidized. “Everybody else we know of is still in their homes. That’s not insignificant,” Osborne said. “It takes time to make the market change.”