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Indianapolis plans affordable housing complex for the formerly incarcerated

Posted at 12:04 AM, Feb 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-24 14:28:27-05

INDIANAPOLIS — The City of Indianapolis is requesting bids for the construction of a new affordable housing complex at Near Eastside.

The seven-acre site, located at North Sherman Drive and East Michigan Street, is a part of the Sherman Park Project.

The complex would welcome people with criminal records and their families.

“Formerly incarcerated individuals are not a protected class under federal housing law, so they do have limited options when it comes to housing,” said Scarlett Andrews, director of Metropolitan Development for the City of Indianapolis.

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Kristina Byers helps the formerly incarcerated secure housing locally in her position as a program manager for PACE. She said many of her clients are denied housing automatically based on their criminal backgrounds.

“Here's rent. It's going to be paid. But yet places are still denying them because of their criminal history,” she said.

The complex will not be reserved specifically for people with records and their families. Others will be able to live there, which Byers said is the ultimate goal: integration.

Antonio Lipscomb is getting his own organization off the ground to help the formerly incarcerated. With Indiana Re-Entry, he hopes to help people get all they need to successfully reintegrate into society.

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“If you just set up housing, and that’s it, it’s bound to fail,” he said. “If a person gets out and they don't have a driver's license or a state ID, they can't go get a job.”

The City plans to help with other aspects of the re-entry process. The complex is being built near the new RecycleForce headquarters. RecycleForce hires the formerly incarcerated with help from a mortgage tax credit provided by the city, so potential jobs could be nearby for residents.

The planning is in its early stages, and will likely take years to complete, but both Byers and Lipscomb see the plan as a positive sign.

“I think it’s phenomenal, it’s long overdue,” said Lipscomb.

“The fact that we're having this conversation, the fact that the city is behind this effort, I'm very hopeful,” said Byers.