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Indiana News

South Bend Housing Authority seeking proposals to demolish, replace Rabbi Shulman apartments

rabbishulman_cropped.jpeg
Gemma DiCarlo / WVPE
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South Bend Housing Authority Director Dr. Catherine Lamberg gave an update on the Rabbi Shulman apartments during a Tuesday night discussion hosted by the Community Forum for Economic Justice.

The housing authority oversees over 800 public housing units and distributes 2,100 Section 8 housing choice vouchers. 

But some of those units are currently offline — back in January, all tenants of the Rabbi Shulman apartments were forced to move out by early March because the building was deemed unsafe due to a gas leak.

Lamberg said the vast majority of former residents accepted housing vouchers, and the authority is continuing to follow up with them through a relocation specialist.

She called the building “obsolete,” and said the authority is now asking for proposals from developers to demolish and replace it along with the Monroe Circle Apartments.

It would be a repositioning, which Lamberg said means the replacement building would be changed from public housing to a different type of affordable housing.

“That could be tax credits, that could be housing choice vouchers, that could be different types of subsidy,” Lamberg said.

If the building is replaced, Lamberg said the authority wants to invite the former residents back and that it would remain as affordable housing.

“That’s all repositioning means — changing from one platform to another platform but maintaining the affordable status,” she said. “It’s different for the housing authority in terms of where the funding comes from, but for the person that’s receiving that assistance to make their housing affordable — it’s no different for them.”

The authority currently has no plans to sell the property, Lamberg said.

Lamberg joined the housing authority as director earlier this year, and has pledged to provide more transparency after the beleaguered authority’s former director Tonya Robinson was indicted on federal fraud charges.

Currently, the authority has over 1,000 people on the waiting list for housing units and housing vouchers.

“We inherited a housing authority that was in a state of trouble,” Lamberg said. “And we have some work to do to work our way out of that situation so we can maximize the housing that’s being made available, begin to pull applicants off the waitlist, and get into a position where we can open the waitlist to attract more applicants.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the authority has set aside 100 housing vouchers for homeless residents, and has so far received about 40 applications. 

It will also be receiving 44 emergency housing vouchers, specifically for homeless residents, from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development through the state of Indiana.

Lamberg said the housing authority has not done any evictions for nonpayment of rent since January.

The authority is currently getting 100 percent in rent collection each month and working with residents who are behind, either through helping them apply for rental assistance or setting up repayment plans.

Contact Jakob at jlazzaro@wvpe.org or follow him on Twitter at @JakobLazzaro.

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