The housing problem in Valparaiso is a subtle one being resolved with genuine action that is anything but. We may not always see the struggles of our neighbors, but Park Place Apartments is making sure no one has to feel it, either.
Project Neighbors and Housing Opportunities partnered to build Park Place, a home with 15 affordable apartments under one roof. They celebrated the completion of their building on January 26th, a little over a year after its conception.
The apartments will go to single women of the community who are struggling with a low income or a disability. Each one has a full bathroom and a kitchenette. Laundry facilities are in the building, along with offices for staff and a common room with a tv. The outside doors lock for privacy and security.
“Every time you add affordable housing you make the community a more welcoming place,” said Paul Schreiner, Executive Director of Project Neighbors and supervisor of the renovations. “I love working with volunteers, I love this mission. I believe we need to take care of everyone in Valparaiso, a place that has become expensive to live in if you are on a moderate income.”
This is the second building of its kind to be built by Project Neighbors and Housing Opportunities. The first, Neighbors Place, housed 18 women. Many still are on the waiting list.
40% of the people who live in Valparaiso are housing unstable, which means that they are one missed paycheck away from being homeless.
“The need is so great,” said Caroline Shook, CEO of Housing Opportunities. “When we did Neighbors Place, we saw how fast it filled up, and said we need more. Ten women have units already, many of them were homeless when they moved in.”
Housing Opportunities supplied the fundraising for Park Place and Project Neighbors handled renovations. The building, before it was a retail store, was a church. So they were able to add a second story with four additional apartments.
Ryan Eveler, past President of the Valparaiso University volunteer group Brothers Reaching Out, said he enjoyed working on the building. “Especially working with Paul. He has a way of teaching you that you pick up right away. This is going to change the community in a positive way. It’s great to see they tenets already here.”
Plans are already in the works for the next set of apartments, a home for single men.
“It’s wonderful here,” said residents Lois Petrosti and Mary Ellen Robison.
Petrosti continued, “I have never lived alone before. I love it. It’s a bunch of ladies here all having a good time. We are all doing something we haven’t been able to do before. Each room is different. We are all different.”