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An opportunity to give back: Event to help Indianapolis neighborhood create affordable housing

Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood feels impact of interstate divide
Posted at 8:23 AM, Nov 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-23 10:48:18-05

INDIANAPOLIS — The Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood on the near northeast side is one of Indianapolis' oldest neighborhoods.

Community members are now asking residents past and present to give back and help with things like building and sustaining affordable housing.

"That's the whole point of the event we're having on Black Friday. We're taking care of ourselves. We're beginning the initiation of that," said James Wilson, a community activist and president of Circle Up Indy who was born and raised in the Martindale-Brightwood community.

RELATED | Martinedale-Brightwood neighborhood history

The Martindale-Brightwood Community Development Corporation is putting on the Black Friday Give Back and Neighborhood Reunion virtually. Joi Harmon, deputy director of the organization, says it is a way for those with connections to the community to make a lasting impact.

"Giving them an opportunity to come back and give back and having the same amount of pride in their neighborhood, similar to what they may have in a university or a fraternity or a sorority," Harmon said.

Martindale-Brightwood neighborhoo
Houses near the 2400 block of Rural Street

Like many predominantly Black communities, things like grocery stores, shopping centers, doctors' offices, and other businesses left the neighborhood in the years after the interstate system was built and divided the area in the 1960s and 70s. It's why Martindale-Brightwood has seen a lost of disinvestment over the decades.

RELATED | 'Under the highway': How interstates divided Indianapolis neighborhoods and displaced 17,000 people

"Putting an interstate in the neighborhood displaced people. It also caused a divide in a lot of ways," Harmon said.

Approximately 17,000 Indianapolis residents were displaced city-wide a half-century ago during the era of interstate construction. Martindale-Brightwood residents are still feeling the effects.

"The highway effectively split the neighborhood in half. It also displaced several residents and it greatly impacted how businesses were able to exist in the neighborhood," Quiny Murphy, a business owner and community activist who grew in the neighborhood, said.

However, Harmon, Murphy, and Wilson know area has lots of untapped potential.

"We have disparities that do exist in our neighborhood, but it's not depleted, it's very rich," Wilson said.

Outside investors see that as well. On Zillow, you'll find homes listed in the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"It becomes a Catch 22," Wilson said. "On the Martindale side, you see Porsches driving in the neighborhood and they say 'hey, we're diversifying,' but you can't tell Blacks across the way that. Housing prices are going up and they're getting kicked out and that's the problem we're seeing.

"It's our goal, going back to Black Friday is the reiteration of us buying and getting our community back jointly together and the collective impact."

People can register online for the Black Friday event here.

RELATED | Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood to receive $3.5 million from Lift Indy project