News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

June 11, 2014

New housing to target homeless vets

Veterans to get priority at future site, others welcome

TERRE HAUTE — Mental Health America of Vigo County has purchased three acres of property on the city’s northeast side for emergency housing for homeless people. The Terre Haute Redevelopment Commission, which owned the land, approved the sale Wednesday for $4,060.

Military veterans will be given priority in the planned, 30-unit residential facility, said Myra Wilkey, executive director of Mental Health America of Vigo County. Next preference will be given to people who are frequent users of emergency housing, she said.

“We serve some of the most vulnerable people in Terre Haute,” Wilkey told the Terre Haute Redevelopment Commission, which voted for the sale at a special meeting Wednesday afternoon in City Hall. Providing housing is a first step in helping people receive the mental health treatment they often need, she said.

In 2013 there were more than 200 homeless veterans in Vigo County, Wilkey said.

The facility will be built on what-is-now a long grassy area between Locust and Elm streets immediately east of North 25th Street and west of Brown Boulevard. The Heritage Road National Trail bike path runs along the property, which is currently zoned for heavy industry. The City Council is expected to vote on a request to rezone the property at its regular 6 p.m. meeting today in City Hall.

Mental Health America was the sole bidder for the property. The bid was opened at a 4 p.m. meeting of the Redevelopment Commission. Three voting commissioners, David Heath, Brian Dyer and Troy Helman, were present along with Paul Lockhart, a non-voting member appointed to the commission by the Vigo County School Board. Two commissioners, Jim Nichols and Brian Conley, were absent but are strongly supportive of the project, said Cliff Lambert, executive director of the Redevelopment Department. A motion to approve the sale passed without opposition.

While the property sold for only a little more than $4,000, it will require some costly remediation, Wilkey said after the meeting. The property was a brownfield site, and special steps will be needed to make it suitable for housing, she said.

The sale met all legal requirements, including advertising notice in the newspaper, said Rhonda Oldham, attorney for the Redevelopment Commission.

Builders could break ground on the project as soon as December, Wilkey said. The facility should be ready for its first residents by 2016, she said.

The facility will include one-, two- and three-bedroom units, Wilkey said.

To the property’s north is a salvage yard currently zoned for heavy industrial use. To the west are residential neighborhoods and to the south are residences and also a large area zoned for industrial use.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com

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