In New York, ‘Housing First’ Approach Helps Unhoused People Find Stability

In New York, ‘Housing First’ Approach Helps Unhoused People Find Stability

Ronnie Hodge and her young son were living in her uncle’s apartment in the Bronx when the uncle suddenly moved upstate, leaving mom and baby with no place to go. She moved into a city family shelter along with her son and boyfriend of 15 years and spent three years there, struggling to cope with little personal space and no kitchen to cook in.  For Hodge, the stress was sadly familiar. As a child, she had lived in more than 30 foster homes, and as an adult, her alcohol addiction often left her unemployed. Shelter life contributed to a break-up with the boyfriend and left Hodge with depression and anxiety. Her son was also stressed and lost weight because he wouldn’t eat the food the shelter provided.  Then, in September 2020, a nonprofit called HousingPlus transformed her life....

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Community Land Trusts Are Building Disaster-Resilient Neighborhoods

Community Land Trusts Are Building Disaster-Resilient Neighborhoods

In late September, Hurricane Ian, one of the most powerful and costly storms to make landfall in the U.S., tore through southwest Florida and caused an estimated $67 billion in property damage. But on Big Pine Key, a community 100 miles southwest of Miami that saw flooding and storm surges up to five feet, 27 nearly-finished cottages were still standing, largely unharmed. “It was a good test,” said Maggie Whitcomb, who helped develop the cottages. “You never want to have a storm, but it’s good to know after a serious weather event just how strong your construction is.”  Built atop 12-foot tall white podiums with water-resistant finishes and low-energy utilities, the cottages were constructed with structural insulated panels (SIPs), a strong, airtight substance made from...

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The History of Community Land Trusts in the U.S.

The History of Community Land Trusts in the U.S.

After World War II, blacks in Georgia were vulnerable to predatory behavior of landlords. Some were evicted and then, because they did not have a stable address, were refused the right to vote. The goal in starting a community land trust was to ensure housing stability and secure their right to vote. In June 1968, a group of community leaders traveled to Israel to learn about developing homes and cooperatives on community-owned land. They collected legal agreements from Israel as a basis for what could be used in the US. This led to the creation of New Communities, Inc., which is considered to be the first community land trust in America. In 1969, they purchased 6,000 acres of land in Albany, Georgia, which was the largest black-owned landholding in the U.S. Slater King, Marion King,...

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Could We Create a Community Land Trust in Fort Wayne?

Could We Create a Community Land Trust in Fort Wayne?

Jason Webb of Grounded Solutions Network is part of the team creating a new community land trust in Indianapolis. In a recent webinar, he reflected on how living in a Community Land Trust (CLT) helps families build wealth, just not in the traditional way. “The generational wealth that homeownership can bring to future generations is more than just the dollars and cents that somebody could get from that real estate transaction. The wealth really comes from the stability of having a home, of not needing to go through the rent increases year after year.” The goal is for lease owners to be in a better situation than they’d be in if they rented, so that they can invest a larger portion of their disposable income into their businesses, retirement accounts, and families. A Community Land Trust...

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City of Fort Wayne Announces New Plan to Combat Homelessness

City of Fort Wayne Announces New Plan to Combat Homelessness

Even before the pandemic closed businesses, schools, and scattered millions of Americans to work from home in early 2020, lower income homeowners and renters everywhere were staring down a housing crisis that threatened their ability to put a roof over the heads of their loved ones. But as the country has started to return to normal, the crisis has remained, as many face rising rental costs and the increasing risk of homelessness. In an effort to address Fort Wayne’s homelessness problem, city officials in February released its Everyone Home comprehensive plan. The plan calls for an increase in affordable housing stock throughout the Summit city, and improvements and additions to services provided for homeless or near-homeless residents. It also emphasizes coordination between various...

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Regional Shelter Offers Opportunity for Reclaimed Lives

Regional Shelter Offers Opportunity for Reclaimed Lives

Auburn has become a city on the rise. In its west-side commercial district, heavy construction equipment and cranes have been a common sight, as older buildings give way to new ones springing up all over. One project, though, has taken shape more quietly. Tucked behind the ongoing new construction of a chain deli, a relic of the 1960s has been given new life — and gives new hope — to families and individuals facing homelessness. Fortify Life, a fledgling nonprofit, has renovated 13 rooms in a modest former Days Inn motel, creating emergency and transitional housing in a community that has shown great need for it. Jeremiah Otis, Fortify Life’s energetic director of development, said the renaissance of the motel is part of a new approach to addressing poverty in northeast Indiana. The...

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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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