GARY | Construction of a 60-unit, two-story development to house the homeless is under way in Gary.
Work started last week on South Shore Commons, which will provide housing along with supportive services and case management by Edgewater Systems for Balanced Living.
Edgewater Systems, UP Development LLC, Broadway Area Community Development Corp., NSP Consultants and the city of Gary are partnering on the $12 million project, which will bring permanent supportive housing to a vacant property east of Grant Street on 20th Avenue, between Lincoln and Pierce streets.
"This is not a shelter. This is permanent housing," said Renae Tomczak, chief of strategic planning and development officer for Edgewater.
The development, slated for a December completion, is four years in the making, delayed by funders waiting for the facility to receive Section 8 voucher approval.
Representatives from the city and its partners will be on hand at the site at 10 a.m. Wednesday for a groundbreaking ceremony.
“Edgewater is excited to finally be moving forward with this project that meets a critical need," said Danita Johnson Hughes, president and CEO of Edgewater. "No one should be without a stable place to live. For 60 people this is the first step toward a better quality of life and will enhance recovery physically, mentally and spiritually."
The building will serve as a first step for residents.
"Our goal is to transition them to more traditional housing, but only when the time is right," Johnson Hughes said. "Only when they can live independently."
The 72,000-square-foot project includes 48 one-bedroom and 12 two-bedroom furnished apartments, with energy efficient systems and appliances. The building will have a laundry room, reception area, computer room and a group gathering space.
The site is near public transportation, shopping, schools, churches, banks, day care and other small businesses that could serve as places of employment for residents.
South Shore Commons is being developed using Housing First, a strategy in which stable housing is addressed first, and other issues affecting the household are addressed after.
"But for a stable place to lay your head, you can't avail yourself to services and opportunities that are there to assist a person to reach a state of wellness," Johnson Hughes said.
Edgewater will begin the process of securing tenants two to three months before construction is complete, Tomczak said.
"Having a permanent place to live, with supportive services, costs less than the care provided through institutional settings that those experiencing chronic homelessness typically use," she said.
Funding for the project is being provided by National Equity Fund Inc., Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis, the City of Gary Department of Commerce, Community Development Division, CSH Indiana and Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority.