South Central Indiana Housing Opportunities (SCIHO) is pleased to announce our plans for an important new affordable housing development: Switchyard Park Apartments, proposed for 1901 S Rogers St, Bloomington, Indiana, adjacent to the new city park now under development.

Mayor John Hamilton’s administration has requested approval of a 99-year lease at the cost of $1 for City-owned land adjacent to Switchyard Park. SCIHO proposal for Switchyard Park Apartments envisions plans for 16 affordable housing units in two phases.

The high cost of land is one reason that housing is often expensive in the City of Bloomington. The city’s dedication of this land for affordable housing development makes Switchyard Park Apartments, feasible—rather than impossible.SCIHOSitePlan_051717

Below is an excerpt of remarks from Deborah Myerson, SCIHO executive director, at the city’s May 17 news conference announcing the City of Bloomington’s proposed partnership with SCIHO on this project. Full remarks are here.

Cooperation with the City of Bloomington

Since the City proposed the allocation of this site for affordable housing development in March, SCIHO has had the pleasure of working with Doris Sims, director of Housing and Neighborhood Development and Paula McDevitt, director of Parks and Recreation, to consider how to make this idea a reality.  Their collaboration and support has been invaluable to navigate the admittedly complex process of affordable housing development.

Switchyard Park Apartments

Affordable housing development demands attention to design, affordability, finance, and community engagement.

Design

Our proposal is to develop Switchyard Park Apartments in two phases of eight units each. We have worked with Springpoint Architects to produce a preliminary site plan for the project, with a community room, laundry, parking, and a courtyard with a community garden between the East and West buildings.

Affordability

With 100 percent affordable units, rents for the proposed project will be targeted for low-income households, ranging from $550-$650 for one-bedroom units to $655-$850 for the 2-bedroom apartments. However, truly affordable housing is not only about cost—it is also about location and proximity to amenities. Simply put, this site is an outstanding location. Not only does it share a backyard with Switchyard Park, which will soon be the newest gem of among our city’s parks, but it is in a walkable location on a bus line and near the B-line Trail, with easy access to employment, groceries, educational resources, and more.

Financing

Affordable housing development always requires multiple layers of finance, and this $1.2 million project is no different. We are pleased to have a $400,000 loan commitment from BloomBank for Switchyard Park Apartments. The City is reviewing a commitment of up to $200,000 to assist in the construction of the units through HOME Investment Partnership funding, including CHDO set-aside funds for such projects. SCIHO has also applied for funds from the competitive Affordable Housing Program with the Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis.

Community Engagement

One of our next big efforts on this project is community engagement—particularly with neighbors and low-income households. We are seeking feedback from low-income potential residents each stage of the project development, including project concept, site location, design and property management. This input is extremely important to ensure that the project best meets the needs of potential residents as well as the neighborhood. We will invite neighbors and potential residents to participate in community meetings and complete surveys.

We have also initiated prospective partnerships that can support residents’ financial empowerment, with local institutions such as MCCSC’s Adult Education program, Monroe County Head Start, Old National Bank, WorkOne, and Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard. In addition, we have committed to a partnership with LIFEDesigns to designate several units for people with disabilities.

We are only at the beginning of this journey, but are grateful to have gotten off to a strong start in collaboration with the City. And if all goes well, when Switchyard Park Apartments is completed we will have not only 16 new apartments for low-income households—but a new and replicable model for affordable housing production in the City of Bloomington.