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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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’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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Rent Hikes and Evictions Roil Renters in Northeast Indiana

Rent Hikes and Evictions Roil Renters in Northeast Indiana

Shirley Rork is an Eviction Intervention Program Director for Just Neighbors Interfaith Homeless Network, and a very busy woman. “In Allen County, the rent increase in the past year has been up 40 percent,” Rork said. “I had a tenant being evicted at court. The landlord charged him, and his girlfriend, their two kids $750 a month for a downstairs apartment on Wells Street. Well, they had them sign a new lease, and increased their rent to $1,700.” After the audience let loose with a collective gasp, she explained that most local rent increases were less but still substantial, often increasing from $800 to $1,200 for the same apartment. Rork and three other housing experts offered their views on the Fort Wayne rental market and high eviction rate on April 27 at the Fort Wayne 2022 Fair...

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“Just because a community’s affordable doesn’t mean it’s stable.”

“Just because a community’s affordable doesn’t mean it’s stable.”

 Interview with Dr. Matthew Desmond, Author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City Fort Wayne is an affordable city in the very affordable Midwest, which suggests stability. However, affordability and stability don’t extend to the region’s rental market. Princeton University’s Eviction Lab ranked Fort Wayne 13th in the nation for the number of renters evicted from their houses and apartments in 2016. That year, an average of 8.35 households were evicted each day, but the challenges renters face have grown steadily since then. With area rents increasing by 40 percent over the last year, average household earnings haven’t come close to keeping up. Pressures like these can force more and more renters to fall behind and end up evicted. What’s happening? Are northeast...

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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.