INDIANAPOLIS — “If you want to find somewhere that you can afford to live, you’re going to be living somewhere run down,” Jessica Gerig said.
An Air Force veteran, Gerig said at one point, finding quality affordable housing felt next to impossible.
“I ran into a patch of bad luck to put it nicely and ended up homeless,” Gerig said. “I was looking online at resources to try and help me. I’m on a fixed income and so I don’t make enough money to qualify for most apartments.”
But after working with the group Helping Veterans and Families (HVAF) which provides housing and re-integration services for homeless veterans, she now has a place to stay. With two kids, she said, “Being somewhere safe is huge for me. The fact that Veterans Villa has locked doors everywhere. And you have to have a key card to get in and all that kind of stuff it’s major to me.”
Now, HVAF is onto its next project, collaborating for the first time with Woda Cooper Companies, a national affordable housing developer and property manager, as well as the City of Indianapolis and the Housing Agency to help house more people.
“There is a huge shortfall of affordable housing period,” Nick Surak, Woda Cooper Companies Senior Vice President of Development said.
“It is a crazy housing market out there. In the affordable housing arena, even more so,” Brian Copes, Helping Veterans and Families President explained. “So developments like ours that provides housing for singles, for seniors, for families, and in our case for veterans, are vitally important.”
On Wednesday, they broke ground on a new 61-unit, high quality affordable housing community called Proctor Place on the city's west side, with 15 units set aside for homeless veterans.
“It’s a really great quality life opportunity for the future tenants,” Copes said.
This year, the Indianapolis Housing Agency has increased funding to $3 million to address homelessness. They’ve made more housing vouchers available to help house 433 more families in 2021. 672 vouchers have been filled so far. The 61 families who will soon live here at Proctor Place is just another example of their efforts.
“There are a lot of people out there that need help and it’ll be nice to have extra places for them to go," Gerig said.
Their goal is to house 1,400 people this year through housing vouchers. Last year, the agency was in shortfall and unable to lease under the homeless preference vouchers entirely.
“Once we get this one under our belt, we are already having conversations about what the next opportunity might look like,” Copes said.
The new Proctor Place facility will include one, two and three bedroom units, with a community room, free Wi-Fi, free computer stations and on-site supportive services.
Proctor Place is named in honor of Sgt. Joseph Eugene "Joey" Proctor, a member of the Indiana Army National Guard, who was killed in action during combat operations in Iraq in 2006 and awarded the Silver Star for heroism and conspicuous gallantry.