Struggle and SuccessSection 8 vouchers provide a pathway to stability, but challenges remain

Struggle and Success
Section 8 vouchers provide a pathway to stability, but challenges remain

Without the Fort Wayne Housing Authority, Fort Wayne resident Aquila White is confident she would not be where she is today – a homeowner. White, 35, is a former participant in the federal Housing Choice Voucher Program – often referred to as Section 8 – and of the Fort Wayne Housing Authority’s Family Self-Sufficiency Program. She is one of thousands of residents who sought housing assistance from the Fort Wayne Housing Authority – a number that is increasing as the price of rent continues to rise nationwide. Long waitlists and difficulty finding landlords and property owners willing to participate can create harrowing challenges for those in need of assistance. Government officials and social service agencies have noted a rise in housing assistance applications in recent years – many...

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Indiana had one of the highest eviction rates in the country before and during the pandemic

Indiana had one of the highest eviction rates in the country both before and during the pandemic, according to data released by the Eviction Research Network. The data show that even during the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eviction moratoria, Indiana’s eviction rates were only slightly lower than historic averages. Much of the data underlines existing research from both SAVI and Eviction Lab. (Courtesy of the Eviction Research Network) Tim Thomas is the director of the Eviction Research Network out of the University of California, Berkeley. He said while many states saw dramatic dips in eviction rates throughout the pandemic, Indiana’s rates stayed relatively close to historic averages. “Indiana is one of the few where the filing rates got back up to 50, 60 percent of...

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Resettling refugees in Fort Wayne: How does the process work, and what is needed?

Resettling refugees in Fort Wayne: How does the process work, and what is needed?

A former refugee from Burma, Nyein Chan knows what it’s like to adjust to a new place—not just in Fort Wayne, but in the United States. He knows what it takes to build a life here from scratch. That’s why, for the past 25 years, Chan has worked for Catholic Charities as Director of Resettlement Services for the national organization, helping other immigrants and refugees make the transition to life in Northeast Indiana and the U.S. For years, Fort Wayne has been welcoming families and individuals from around the world seeking refuge from war-torn and hostile environments. So what has the process looked like historically, and how is it evolving? Where do refugees find housing in Fort Wayne, and what is needed to help them assimilate and prosper here? The story is complex, fragmented, and...

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Study: Indiana’s growing refugee population needs language services, housing, job access

Study: Indiana’s growing refugee population needs language services, housing, job access

Language services, affordable housing and access to jobs are among the top needs of Indiana’s growing refugee population, according to a new report published this week by Indiana University researchers. Researchers at IU’s Center for Research on Inclusion and Social Policy (CRISP) used interviews with local refugees and employees at refugee-serving agencies in Indiana to inform the report, which intends to identify service gaps and provide policy recommendations. Research analyzed throughout the policy brief shows the barriers both groups face are often intertwined. The report follows an influx of Afghan refugees that came to Indiana last year, after escaping a country once again ruled by Taliban militants. “It led me and my team to start thinking – what does this process of resettlement...

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State, local policies needed to remedy homelessness

State, local policies needed to remedy homelessness

As housing prices increase for both buyers and renters, more Hoosiers are getting squeezed out of the market and families are pushed toward homelessness. But researchers argue the state could take steps to help its most vulnerable Hoosiers. This year’s point-in-time count in Indianapolis reported an overall decrease in the number of people experiencing homelessness. But for those under the age of 24, whether in a family or not, homelessness continued to increase over pre-pandemic figures. “I was super surprised to see the increase in individuals under the age of 24 and (in) families,” said Brendan Bow, the lead researcher for the count and an accompanying policy brief. “A lot of the populations went up a lot for 2021 during COVID but most of the age groups went back down.” In particular,...

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African American Immigrants Persevere Despite Discrimination and Segregation in Fort Wayne

African American Immigrants Persevere Despite Discrimination and Segregation in Fort Wayne

The local history of Black citizens in Fort Wayne mirrors the national history of Black Americans. Many persevered through slavery until it was outlawed statewide in 1816. In the decades that followed, they faced legalized segregation, restrictions on immigration and settlement, and fights for access to public education. The earliest record of African Americans in the area which is now Indiana was in 1746, when five black slaves were documented to belong to French settlers, according to The Indiana Historian. Other sources point to people of African descent with occupations in the military encampments of Fort Wayne starting at the time that Gen. Anthony Wayne was victorious at the Battle of Fallen Timbers and built the city’s namesake fort. Records indicate that, in 1835, African...

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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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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.