EAST CHICAGO | The desire to move into a new home and not worry about renovations drew the Vincent family to the Washington Square neighborhood.
“To be honest, I'm not too well with handiwork,” said Christopher Vincent, who is in the process of buying a model home on Senator Drive.
City officials came to the neighborhood Tuesday to celebrate the building of six new model homes. The project began in September with the aim to build out an area of the neighborhood left unfinished.
Sale prices of the homes, just east of Euclid Avenue and Columbus Drive, range from $145,000 to $160,000 and feature $25,000 in down payment assistance.
The Foundations of East Chicago donated the six lots to the city, said Maria Becerra, executive director of the city's Department of Redevelopment. Two of the homes are already sold, and the city has asked Foundations of East Chicago to donate the six final lots in the neighborhood for future home construction.
East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland said the project raises the standards for homes in the city.
“This gives us the opportunity to set a new price point on home ownership,” Copeland said. “In the past, when they looked for comparables in the city of East Chicago, we did not have that standard to uplift our current stock. I believe in this product we have achieved that.”
The city worked with Phillippe Builders to turn around the homes in five months. The city was under a February deadline to use $1 million in funding from the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program, which paid for four of the homes.
The other two homes benefited from about $430,000 in funding from a separate federal housing grant.
A representative from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, through which the city received the NSP grant, recalled standing in the neighborhood looking at a bare piece of land in September.
“What this has done is help pick up this neighborhood," said Peter Hunt, of the state authority. "It's a fantastic house, and this one can now be called a home because we have our homeowners.”