“I had a million and one questions,” said Edge Fund borrower and homeowner Jesseca, “and they were able to answer every single question. They were very helpful, patient, and responsive throughout the entire process. They had a great vision for their neighborhoods which inspired us to be a part of the restoration process. My desire was to purchase our first home in a revitalized neighborhood.”
Jesseca’s story is just one of many homeowners, small business owners, and community members who watched the area just north of downtown Indianapolis blossom into a healthy neighborhood with quality housing, economic prosperity, and social opportunities.
The current and future community development activities were made possible in part by funds through the Lift Indy grant. Each year, the City of Indianapolis selects one strategic, focused area to help meet neighborhood goals and provides funds through the Lift Indy program. The comprehensive community development program promotes equitable neighborhood revitalization through affordable housing, economic development, and placemaking.
The City selected Monon16 as the 2018 Lift Indy area for the inaugural year of the program. Renew Indianapolis led the Monon16 area development with diverse and effective partnerships from organizations with deep ties to the neighborhoods, including:
At the start of Monon16, there was an issue with the perception of safety. Vacant and abandoned lots attracted illegal activity and the vacant lots were also a breeding ground for trash dumping and overgrowth. Some lots were even informally categorized as “forests,” and the Monon Trail was dark in some places, even on the sunniest days. Lots were cleared, vacant houses were demolished, and the whole neighborhood seemed safer and more welcoming.
In an area that was already in need of comprehensive community development, a former service station sat neglected and abandoned. The sagging structure was an eyesore to the neighborhood residents, and the ground beneath was contaminated.
This property was the first commercial project to use the Lift Indy funds through the Build Fund. Due to the contamination, the site needed remediation before returning to constructive use. So it was very fitting that the future property owners would be a full-service environmental consulting firm.
After remediation, a newly erected building allowed Heartland Environmental Associates to open its Indianapolis headquarters. It was an all-around win for everyone involved. A small business received a Build Fund loan for a custom-built facility, and our city will receive property taxes at a site where no commercial activity had occurred for decades. Additionally, Heartland created three local jobs. The big winners are the neighborhood residents who now have an attractive modern building adding to the community’s texture rather than a blighted eyesore.
Renew partnered with the ReDevelopment Group to bring properties full circle from empty lots to newly-constructed homes that realize the neighborhood’s vision of a diverse and inclusive place to live. In total, property values increased 5352.21% in just four years.
One such property sitting in the heart of Monon16 was well-known in the community for all the wrong reasons. A magnet of illegal activity and constant police runs, the deteriorating property known as “the brothel” stood out as an eyesore and nuisance to the community.
On a cold day in late March of 2018, leaders and residents of the Hillside and Kennedy-King neighborhoods joined Mayor Joe Hogsett, IMPD Officers, and the Department of Metropolitan Development to demolish the boarded-up house. The demolition was possible thanks to the Blight Elimination Program (BEP), which has allowed Renew Indianapolis to demolish more than 400 dilapidated houses since 2015.
In keeping with the neighborhood strategy of developing mixed-income housing, Re-Development Group began construction on a duplex with one side reserved for a low-income homebuyer and the other at market-rate.
The Edge Fund’s first single-family homeowner and borrower was Amanda.
“I think one of the many beautiful things about the Renew Indianapolis partnership is the opportunity it provides to the income-qualified buyer,” said Amanda. “I wasn’t sure what this experience would be like or if I would like the options available. I am happy to report it has exceeded any preconceived expectations that I may have had.”
When asked about what homeownership meant to her, Amanda said:
“The opportunity for homeownership we’ve been given through this program will be life-changing for us. Not only is this home affordable, but it is also beautifully designed and built to last. Knowing this gives me great comfort and security in the fact that I can better plan for our future. Owning a home gives me a sense of stability and a space to ground myself.”
“This has been the most incredible opportunity that has ever happened to me,” said Abby. “I would have never thought that I would be able to purchase a home on my own. It means the world to me that I am able to invest in myself and become a homeowner all on my own.
I felt very supported throughout the entire process. It is very exciting to purchase your first home but at the same time it is terrifying. Any time I had any concerns or questions, they would make sure that I knew everything that I needed to know to feel comfortable buying a home.”
“I absolutely fell in love with the downtown area and the Monon Trail,” said Marc. “I now have a place that I can call home. The process of buying a home through Build Fund was fantastic, Everyone was very helpful during the entire process, and I learned a lot along the way.”
Edge Fund borrower and homeowner, Emily said homeownership means rest, freedom, and opportunity for her.
“I can now have a home all my own that can open itself up to friends and family and neighbors,” said Emily. “It was such a blessing for me! I would not have been able to have such a beautiful home if it weren’t for [Edge Fund].”
Owner-Occupied Repair Program (OOR)
Helping existing residents remain in their homes is key to maintaining the character and history of a neighborhood. As part of the Monon16 Lift Indy project, Renew partnered with Greater Indianapolis Habitat for Humanity to address needed repairs to homes that, if left unattended, could potentially cause the homeowners greater issues in the future.
In total, Renew Indianapolis invested $170,860 to repair homes under the OOR program so that residents can live safely, comfortably, and with the peace of mind that their properties are sound.
Another significant piece of the Monon16 project involved collaborating with local residents and organizations to create and improve cultural community spaces.
The Harrison Center for the Arts was primarily responsible for elevating stories of the neighborhood and legacy residents’ history and building connections between the long-existing and new residents. The Lift Indy funding allowed the Harrison Center to hire interns to create and implement Pre-Enact Indy, coordinate porch parties, and promote the neighborhood’s overall story. The Harrison Center leaders also met with newly-opening businesses to promote equitable hiring of legacy residents into their business plans.
Overall, Renew and our partners completed $50M in projects and leveraged $6.95M in other grant funding. There are still 12 new projects in the pipeline using funding outside of Lift Indy grant funds.
Lift Indy 2021
Partially based on the success of the Monon16 project, Renew Indy joins the Lift Indy team again to help build the vision of the Martindale-Brightwood community.
Renew Indianapolis will preserve affordable housing for current homeowners, lead a new construction homeownership program, and offer affordable home loans in the area.