INDIANAPOLIS — The need for affordable housing continues to grow in Indianapolis, especially due to the impact COVID-19 has had on families.
Renew Indianapolis is an organization working with the city and other partners to help bridge the gap.
"As a single person, I just never thought it was going to be in the plans for me to buy a home by myself. I always thought I would need a partner or some help financial help," Abby Lebo said.
Lebo is a local high school teacher. She said it was never easy to save money as a teacher while renting. However, gaining her independence and having a home to call her own has always been a goal of hers.
"With Renew Indy, I didn't have to pay the 20% down payment, I only had to pay 3%," Lebo said.
She now owns a home in the Kennedy King neighborhood thanks to assistance from Renew Indianapolis.
"It was the very first day that I got accepted into the program, we went over some lots and houses and this was the first one I saw and I knew immediately knew that this was gonna be my home and I was like where do I sign right away," Lebo said.
Renew Indianapolis is a nonprofit that focuses on supporting community development, neighborhood stabilization and ultimately improving quality of life for Indianapolis residents.
"It starts with us helping with trying to close the gap on development costs to keep the price of houses down. So we build houses and partner with organizations that actually supply houses. On the financing side, we provide very low cost low interest rate mortgages as well. So the monthly payment is affordable," Steven Meyer, Renew Indianapolis Chief Executive Officer said.
The Kennedy King neighborhood is part of the Monon16 area that was chosen by the city in 2018 to be a Lift Indy area.
"It's a commitment, a multiyear commitment from the city to invest about $3.5 million in grant funds specifically into affordable housing as the primary investment," Meyer said.
In the Kennedy King neighborhood, Renew Indianapolis has built about 80 houses, 30% of those were set aside for low income home buyers.
"It is pretty amazing to see the difference in about five years how this particular neighborhood has changed dramatically," Meyers said. "When we started working here there was a lot of illegal dumping. A lot of the lots behind me were overgrown and there was a lot of crime. It was hard to tell you were only half a block away from the Monon Trail."
Renew Indianapolis is now the first nonprofit in Indianapolis to be designated a Neighborworks America chartered member, This means they are able to bring more resources to the communities they work in.
"It really brings a lot of resources to Central Indiana as well as technical assistance and the support network of a wide network of nonprofits from around the country that are working on the same issues that we are," Meyer said.
Renew Indianapolis hopes to add another community every year, so they can bring the same resources they are bringing to the Monon16 area to other parts of the city.
"I really feel like they want to get people into the program that want to be in the neighborhood and want to stay here. A lot of people when they build their first home or they buy their first home it's not the end game for them. They end up selling it and moving somewhere else but I really really feel like this is it for me I'm going to probably live here forever," Lebo said.
Renew Indianapolis is also now working in the Martindale Brightwood community as well, which was designated a Lift Indy area in 2021. Over the next three years, Martindale Brightwood neighborhood will receive $3.5 million in funding through the Lift Indy program which will go to a variety of resources.
Those resources include Renew Indianapolis bringing The Edge Fund, a mortgage refinance loan program for current homeowners. As well as their New Construction Homeownership Program which will help 10 low income households.