INDIANAPOLIS — A new development to help curb the homeless crisis in Indianapolis is proposed for Fall Creek Place, just north of downtown.
It would provide affordable housing for the homeless and the project recently was awarded funding from the state.
But some neighbors aren't sure it's a good fit for the location.
Espero Indianapolis is designed by Missouri developer Vecino Group. They envision a haven for people experiencing homelessness through what's called permanent supportive housing.
The proposal would be located at the corner of 25th and Delaware streets, across from Goose the Market and surrounded by residential homes. It would be three stories, with 40 one-bedroom apartment units, plus health services and job training onsite for those in need of an affordable place to live.
"Often we run into the misinterpretation of a shelter or transitional housing or something of that nature. This is not that," said Patrick McWhirt, creative director/mission officer of Vecino Group. "These are great developments. These should be a good thing, not just for the people that live there, but for everybody in the community."
The $12 million proposal recently received funding from the state - just over a million dollars through the Indiana Housing and Community Development Agency. The entire project would be paid for in a public-private partnership.
Vecino Group is now in early talks with the city of Indianapolis and its Department of Metropolitan Development.
"So right now, we're in what we call pre-development and we anticipate closing around November of this year," McWhirt said.
The company has developed similar projects across the country. Espero Austin, which has the same services as Indy's proposed development but on a larger scale, opens in the fall.
McWhirt said the location in Indianapolis was chosen after consideration and input with Hoosiers.
"We were accepted into the Indiana Supportive Housing Institute," McWhirt said. "We went through a six-month program to learn about the needs in Indiana and learn where those needs are. That's where the site came from, essentially how we arrived at 25th and Delaware. Plus location to transit and property that fits that size of housing."
Fall Creek Place is a mostly residential area with a lot of young families and some neighbors are expressing concern about this proposal. Some parents and others on social media have said they're worried this could potentially attract crime and other problems.
Valerie Warycha worries that the problems she's seen at an existing supportive housing complex, not too far from this location, could happen closer to home, too, if the project moves forward.
"It's as simple as safety. There is an apartment complex down the street from me now and I believe those residents are not getting the services they were promised. We constantly see police, ambulance, fire outside the building responding to incidents of criminal activity, related to drug use or medical issues," she said. "If [Vecino Group] have a place that is successful and they could show us where they're successfully integrated into the community because they're getting the therapy or the counseling or whatever it is they need, that may give me some ease. Until I see a place they're actually getting the services they need, it's very hard for me to get behind."
Vecino Group said they're different and carefully plan housing "for the greater good." They plan outreach and communication soon with neighbors to prove it.
"This type of housing is a solution and it's a step up for individuals and really lays the foundation not just for them, but the community at large," McWhirt said.
At least one of the lots included in the proposal appears to fall within the Fall Creek Place HOA and would require neighbors' approval for use changes.
We'll keep you posted as talks continue on the project.