South Bend making affordable housing a top priority with redevelopment
South Bend Mayor James Mueller’s administration is making affordable housing a top priority.
At their monthly meeting Thursday, three of the five items coming before the city’s Redevelopment Commission will involve proposed apartment projects that will reserve parts of their units for low-income tenants.
If approved, the commission would sell property it owns at 1202 S. Lafayette Blvd. for $1,000 to Indianapolis-based KCG Companies. The developer would pledge spending at least $13 million to build 50 units for income-eligible tenants age 55 and older.
Another proposal calls for Evansville-based Advantix Development Corp. to build 50 units on 37 city-owned lots that it would purchase for a combined $1,000, also investing up to $13 million.
The commission already has approved the third project, by former Notre Dame star women’s basketball player Devereaux Peters. She plans to spend $16 million to build a 60-unit apartment complex, with 48 of the units for low-income tenants, on the former Fat Daddy’s site at Michigan and Monroe streets. The commission will be asked to grant an extension to that project’s timeline.
The three projects have one thing in common: They won’t happen unless they’re awarded low-income tax credits by the Indiana Community Development Authority. That’s federal money that the state agency distributes annually in a very competitive process.
Caleb Bauer is the city’s executive director of community investment. Bauer noted that a study the city commissioned last year by Rice University found that people earning 30 percent or less of the city’s median income, the lowest-income group studied, had the greatest need for housing in the city. But he said cities simply can’t afford to give developers the kind of subsidies needed to make low-income housing profitable to build.
He said the federal government will need to make affordable housing spending a bigger priority for the city to make significant progress. Bauer said U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., has advocated for spending more on the program.
“That is a very important federal conversation that is ongoing and so we’re grateful for that focus,” Bauer said. “I think that’s an important thing for the higher levels of government to continue to look at.”