How are American Rescue Plan Act Funds being spent in Fort Wayne? The City fills us in

How are American Rescue Plan Act Funds being spent in Fort Wayne? The City fills us in

The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc and disrupted most facets of life in Fort Wayne and across the nation. To address a wide array of needs felt across the country, Congress and President Joe Biden enacted a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package in March 2021 known as the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Its objective is to aid the United States in its recovery—both economic and otherwise—from the COVID-19 pandemic. The City of Fort Wayne received $50.8 million in ARPA funding, and on April 12, Fort Wayne City Council presented its official Recovery Plan for ARPA money. A total of $18.2 million is set aside for strengthening neighborhoods in the city; $13.3 million is available for making city operations more resilient; $13 million is allocated...

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Eviction Intervention Program Helps Allen County Tenants Stay in Their Homes

Eviction Intervention Program Helps Allen County Tenants Stay in Their Homes

On any day that there are eviction cases on the docket at the Allen County Court’s Small Claims Division, there are people in the courtroom gallery actively looking for people they can help. They’re with the Just Neighbors Interfaith Homeless Network’s Eviction Intervention Program, which opened in January and aims to help tenants avoid an eviction by providing financial assistance, or by offering referrals to legal representation and other social service agencies. Since most eviction cases filed in Allen County have to do with nonpayment of rent, much of the team’s time is spent processing rental assistance applications. If a tenant is approved under the Eviction Intervention Program, Just Neighbors will pay their past-due rent, as well as rent going forward for a set period of time, in...

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Building a Future for Young Adults Aged out of Foster Care

Building a Future for Young Adults Aged out of Foster Care

“When we were in foster care, we weren’t allowed to get a license, we weren’t allowed to have a bank account or a phone. We weren’t allowed to have anything.” A young woman in Fort Wayne’s young adult housing described the steep learning curve she encountered at age eighteen. The path to adulthood is fraught for any young person, but it presents additional challenges to those who age out of foster care without a support system in place. These kids are given $600 and a backpack on their eighteenth birthdays, but if they don’t have a birth certificate or a Social Security card, the next steps seem insurmountable. At The Courtyard on Home Avenue in Fort Wayne, most residents used to be foster children. The Courtyard is an apartment complex that houses young adults, usually between ages 18...

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Irish Immigrants Left Their Mark Building the Wabash-Erie Canal

Irish Immigrants Left Their Mark Building the Wabash-Erie Canal

While many think of Fort Wayne as a largely German town, it was another cultural group that built the infrastructure necessary for Fort Wayne to boom. Early local infrastructure projects like the Wabash-Erie Canal and railroad were built in large part by Irish immigrants to Allen County and Fort Wayne. These projects had a lasting impact on the industry, population and culture of the city, yet the Irish rarely receive recognition for their hand in building the Summit City. According to local Irish history expert Rob Stone, a wave of Irish immigrants came to Fort Wayne seeking employment, but many businesses denied them, posting that “Irish Need Not Apply.” Despite this roadblock, organizers for the canal hired the Irish in the mid-19th century to build the legendary waterway which...

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German Immigrants’ Outsized Role in Development of Fort Wayne Still Wields Influence

German Immigrants’ Outsized Role in Development of Fort Wayne Still Wields Influence

Fort Wayne has been considered a predominantly German town since the 19th century, and the influence of its German ancestors continues to the present day. Many mayors, businesses and citizens can trace their origins to Germany. In fact, at its peak in the late 1800s, the German makeup of the Summit City was reportedly as high as 8 in 10 people. Today, those with German ancestry still make up 26.5% of the total population of Fort Wayne. Why did a significant number of German immigrants choose Fort Wayne as their home, and how is their impact still seen today? Local German history expert Jim Sack says that the first German immigrant, Johann Kaiser, came to Fort Wayne in the early 19th Century. Soon after Kaiser, he says, Henry Rudisill arrived in town on Christmas Eve in 1830. According to...

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City of Fort Wayne to Invest $600,000 in Habitat for Humanity’s Affordable Housing Project

Cecelia Thomas noticed a small crowd of people outside a house under construction at 3009 Warsaw St. Tuesday afternoon as she returned from the grocery, and got excited. “I dropped my food at home, and ran back up here to find out what was going on,” she said. “I still get excited when somebody moves into a house.” While nobody was moving into the unfinished house, Thomas got there in time to watch Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry announce that the city’s Community Development Division has awarded $600,000 in federal funds through the HOME Investment Partnerships program to Habitat for Humanity of Greater Fort Wayne to build six houses in the La Rez, Oxford, and Poplar neighborhoods. “Everyone deserves a safe and affordable place to call home, which is why we are pleased to partner with...

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Pandemic-hit homeowners say state program saved houses: “It should be on a billboard”

Pandemic-hit homeowners say state program saved houses: “It should be on a billboard”

John Bauer’s salvation came as a phone call. The Porter County resident had been out of work since the pandemic first blasted into the Chicago area, where he’d worked as a tile-setter. Bauer said he resisted applying for unemployment benefits, but folded as the pandemic dragged longer. Illinois ended its federally enhanced unemployment benefits in September 2021. Bauer’s wife, Cynthia, succumbed to Covid-19 on New Year’s Day. Six days later, a propane heater in the garage — feet away from Bauer — exploded into a fire that consumed the garage, melted his utility meter and damaged his house’s siding, roof, windows and door. Bauer’s income dropped to near-nothing as the expenses, insurance complexities and grief piled up. By early 2022, he’d fallen behind on the mortgage for the house his...

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Who lives in Fort Wayne, and how did they get here?

Who lives in Fort Wayne, and how did they get here?

Like most places in the United States, Fort Wayne was largely built by people who immigrated from their homes to a new land. European control of Fort Wayne began with the French, then the British, and finally the Americans. The Miami had settled here prior to and lived here during European settlement, and little is known about groups who lived here prior to the Miami. After the Americans had secured the area around the confluence of the three rivers, the land opened for settlement by various ethnic groups stemming from Europe. While this immigration and population growth was dominated by the Germans for several decades, several other groups from around the world also played an important role in the building of Fort Wayne as it stands today. According to the Allen County Genealogical...

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Who’s unhoused in Fort Wayne? Often, it’s mothers and those escaping abuse without social networks

Who’s unhoused in Fort Wayne? Often, it’s mothers and those escaping abuse without social networks

Sharon Tucker, Executive Director of Vincent Village, in front of the Sally Weigand Community Center. (Rachel Von Stroup) When Angela Skelton left an abusive relationship about 12 years ago, she moved to Fort Wayne to live with her parents. Since then, sometimes working three jobs at a time, she’s managed to save enough money to move into a two-bedroom apartment with two of her children. But when her rent went up $300 a month in late 2019 and her third son moved home at the beginning of the pandemic, they needed more space. That commenced an apartment hunt in Fort Wayne, which Skelton says lasted nearly two years. ‘It felt like another job,” she says. “As the price of rent goes up and the number of houses available goes down, it’s getting harder and harder to find somewhere to live.”...

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Sen Young: ‘Yes in My Backyard’ could reveal housing discrimination

Sen Young: ‘Yes in My Backyard’ could reveal housing discrimination

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Calling affordable housing a first-order priority, Senator Todd Young (R, Indiana) briefed journalists in the Fort Wayne Media Collaborative about his “Yes in My Backyard” bill which would require local planners to report when they are implementing historically discriminatory land use and zoning policies. Young said a primary driver of rising home prices is the requirement of state and local governments for new homes to have things such as large yards, brick exteriors, minimum square footage or expensive cosmetic features. The YIMBY Act would shed light on – but not stop – planners who approve high-end housing over more affordable options. “Sunlight is the best disinfectant,” said Young. “If we can bring transparency to zoning and land use policies then the...

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The mission of the Fort Wayne Media Collaborative is to bring together Fort Wayne’s media resources to address complex community challenges by creating and disseminating solid, evidence-based journalism. We envision transforming the nature of local journalism in Fort Wayne and giving our community greater access to solutions-oriented news that encourages civic engagement.