Project Neighbors has signed a purchase agreement for the former HealthLinc Community Health Center on College Avenue, with the intent to convert the building into Neighbors Place, 18 affordable studio apartments for local women. Project Neighbors will partner with Housing Opportunities to manage the property. Each apartment will be 250 to 300 square feet, and include its own bathroom and kitchenette for $400 monthly to qualified tenants.
“There is a tremendous need for affordable housing in our community,” said Caroline Shook, chief executive officer at Housing Opportunities. “On any given day, more than 200 people are homeless in Porter County. Many of these people are working poor, unable to cover the expense of eating, healthcare, and housing all at the same time. More than 70 percent of Porter County’s homeless are women,” she said.
Project Neighbors hopes to close on the property on Jan. 15, 2014. “We’re optimistic that we could begin the renovation process on Jan. 16,” said Paul Schreiner, President of Project Neighbors, a Valparaiso-based nonprofit organization committed to helping neighbors and promoting equality. “We’re eager to begin the project and look to use largely volunteer labor. We hope to be leasing apartments by summer, 2014,” he said.
“We’re so pleased to see these nonprofit organizations partnering to help solve the problem of homelessness in our community,” said Barb Young, President of the Porter County Community Foundation. The entire project is estimated to require $850,000. HealthLinc has discounted the building by an additional $100,000 to support the effort and $148,000 has been raised so far. Centier Bank is extending a mortgage and 2-year loan to initiate the project. The shortfall between the total project cost and the mortgage amount is about $450,000. Project Neighbors, with the help of the Porter County Community Foundation, is actively looking for community support to make this happen.
To qualify to rent one of these 18 units, women must be receiving Social Security disability, be employed, or be over the age of 62. Tenants’ income must be at or below 40 percent of area median income, which is currently $17,640. Tenants must be Porter County residents and complete the Housing Opportunities application process. At this point Housing Opportunities already has a potential waiting list of 29 women who qualify for the 18 units.
The apartments will be housed on the two upper floors of the building, and the plan is for the main floor to continue being shared as a community space. To make a tax deductible contribution to Neighbors Place, visit www.projectneighbors.org or mail a check payable to Project Neighbors to 554 S. Locust St., Valparaiso, Indiana 46383.
Project Neighbors is a nonprofit organization established in the 1980s, committed to helping neighbors and promoting equality. That help has taken many forms, including providing affordable housing, healthcare, and childcare as well as promoting diversity. Project Neighbors has helped hundreds of families since its inception, through its major impact projects, such as Hilltop Neighborhood House, HealthLinc, and Neighborhood Educational Opportunities, as well as smaller projects, such as individual homes for deserving families.