Housing forum will address issues on the city’s west side

SOUTH BEND, Ind.--  A lack of community investment in certain neighborhoods  and code enforcement standards have local leaders talking.

Ahead of Thursday’s housing forum we are taking a closer look at some of the housing issues folks on the west side are facing.

In the 90’s Stacey Odom’s family received several complaints from code enforcement. They were fined after a neighbor continuously complained about the cars in their driveway.

“If you ignore them in any way or if you don’t abide by the rules you could be homeless it’s that simple. Code enforcement called the mortgage company and the mortgage company sent a letter saying that they would reposess the house,” says Odom.

In order to keep the home, her family paid off their 10 year mortgage in just eighteen months. She says that put a big financial strain on them.

Stories like Stacey’s are encouraging community activists to push for a change in code enforcement.

Nate Levin-Aspenson calls the rules—predatory against those who live in the west side.

“It robs families in that area of opportunities to build generational wealth and build a basis for social mobility,” says Levin-Aspenson.

As the leader of the equality committee with Indivisible Indiana District 2, he’s also advocating for more development in the west side. When it comes to community investment, many feel the area has been overlooked in the past.

“I think cities are bettered by giving people in all areas geographically opportunities for advancement. Even if you don’t live in the west side you are a part of this community and you are going to feel the rippling effects of the degradation that is happening in sectors of this community,” says Levin-Aspenson.

Odom says she has dealt with code enforcement since then and things have gotten better. But, she agrees the west side is unfairly targeted by the rules.

Knowing other families in her situation wouldn’t have been able to drop tens of thousands of dollars to comply, Odom is now speaking up for other west side families.

“I know you can’t make every meeting but whatever you can do it’s in your best interest to engage and do it because if you don’t I think the people who lived here for years and years and years won’t be here no more.

The forum is happening Thursday from 6-8 at the library downtown in the Colfax Theater.

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