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Neighborhood association fighting to win affordable housing for residents

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- The Near Northwest Neighborhood Association is set to host a community meeting on Wednesday night to get feedback on its seventh attempt at applying for low income tax credits.

The group has been working since 2014 to get affordable housing to the near northwest side. However, the state’s Housing and Community Development Association has rejected six of the group’s applications.

“The first five applications have come in very close second,” said Kathy Schuth, executive director for the Near Northwest Neighborhood Association. “Knowing that we’re so close and so competitive it’s worth reapplying and seeing if we can get the one or two extra points in their scoring category.”

She said the application process is highly competitive with 50-60 other cities applying each year. Schuth said the association has come close to receiving the tax credits to fund Avenue’s Edge, an affordable housing project for low income families and individuals.

“We’re looking to meet two goals with this process, that we revitalize the neighborhood through putting an abandoned building back into reuse for the neighborhood and secondly by providing affordable housing especially low income rental housing,” Schuth said.

Jacob Titus lives with his family in the near northwest neighborhood. He said the association is in a tough place when applying for these credits because South Bend is considered a larger city, but still deals with difficulties of small towns.

“I think it shows that the neighborhood has a really long vision that they’re not just seeing this as a ‘Oh, we tried this because it was a good time in South Bend,’” he said. “They’re continuing to try because we see that even if it takes three or four more years than they were planning that their setting this neighborhood up for decades to come.”

The proposed project is nearly $12 million, for 76 units – 17 one bedrooms and 59 two bedroom apartments. There will be a North building at the Ward Bakery and a South building, which will be constructed on a lot on Rex Street and Portage Avenue.

Councilman Tim Scott said he will continue to support the association.

“Getting this flipped to a positive in the neighborhood would be a good thing,” he wrote in a message to ABC 57. “You got to look at how energetic, positive and tight the neighbors of the NNN are.”

He said more people will want to be a part of this neighborhood that is full of potential.

Schuth said the project is an extension of the association’s campus on Portage Avenue. She said she anticipates that residents will use community spaces at the association’s headquarters.

“I think this development you know puts the people there that could sustain some businesses along Portage,” Titus said.

Titus said he hopes to see more business fronts lining Portage as a result of this development. However, for some residents parking and traffic are a concern.

“For folks not living in the building, they’ll be very interested in how this would shape the community, how this would reflect Portage Avenue, and how this would change their day to day living,” Schuth said.

The association will host a community meeting on May 23 at 6 p.m. at the Near Northwest Neighborhood Association building on Portage Ave. For more information, click here.

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