Edsall House units must remain affordable after renovation | Editorials

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An Indianapolis-based real estate company is expected to seek approval from the Fort Wayne Economic Development Commission for an inducement resolution it can take to its bonding entity. If OK’d at today’s 11 a.m. meeting of the commission, Glick Apartment Holdings could get a lower interest rate for its plan for a $25 million renovation of Edsall House, a low-income senior apartment community on West Berry Street.

City residents who are interested in low-income housing might want to attend – or keep abreast – of today’s meeting. Whether Edsall House’s 203 units remain affordable for all of its tenants remains in question.

Glick has owned the 112,000-square-foot Edsall House since 1978, when it was transferred from the city’s redevelopment commission.

The apartment complex currently is assessed at $5.6 million.

Edsall House is federally subsidized, with rents and eligibility determined by government regulations. Its one-bedroom apartments include pull cords in case a resident needs emergency assistance.

Glick’s application to the city said the Edsall House renovation will include a new exterior and interior, as well as new kitchens, bathrooms and exterior lighting. Additional funding will be sought from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for low-income housing credits.

HUD funding suggests some of the Edsall House units will be low-income. Glick didn’t say in its Economic Development Commission application how much money it was seeking from HUD, so the city doesn’t know how many units will remain affordable.

“The [HUD] tax credits require at least a certain percentage of them, and that allocation would likely come through the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority,” said Deputy Director of Housing & Neighborhood Services Kelly Lundberg.

Fort Wayne residents with low incomes already are struggling with housing costs. The nation’s annual inflation rate in April was 8.3%. Food prices jumped 9.4%, and the cost of shelter rose 5.1%.

Between 2015 and 2020, there was an average of 44,391 occupied rental housing units in Allen County, and the median rental cost during that period was $789 in 2020 dollars, Rachel Blakeman, director of Purdue Fort Wayne’s Community Research Institute, told us after Fort Wayne closed the COVID-19 rental aid program. The city assisted about 6,322 households that received more than $19 million in funding from the program.

Though 60.3% of Allen County homeowners spend 20% or less of their income on housing, Blakeman said, 34.3% of the county’s tenants pay more than 35% of their income on a rental property – a recipe for financial ruin.

It’s exciting to hear Edsall House’s owner plans a $25 million update of the facility, and appealing to learn Glick Apartment Holdings isn’t seeking funding from the city. But it’s incumbent upon Economic Development Commission members to ensure the renovation won’t price out a majority of its senior residents.

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