Families without housing are the primary focus of a new apartment complex in Terre Haute selected for a fast-tracked funding program.

Mental Health America of West Central Indiana learned Monday that its proposal to expand housing on Elm Street was selected for funding and technical assistance in the statewide 2020 Indiana Permanent Supportive Housing Institute.

The new complex is now in the planning stages, with groundbreaking anticipated as early as spring 2021.

“We’re very excited for this opportunity and thankful for all the support from the City of Terre Haute and the Vigo County Commissioners,” said Myra Wilkie, CEO of Mental Health America of West Central Indiana. “Without them we couldn’t have these opportunities.”

The organization operates three multi-family developments in Terre Haute to provide housing for people experiencing homelessness – Younity House, Younity Village and Liberty Village. The new complex will be constructed near Liberty Village on land formerly used by railroad companies.

The land has been determined to be a brownfield, and cleanup has been estimated at about $100,000. Groundbreaking on the new development could be in 2021 if the funding is approved as anticipated, Wilkie said. The entire development is expected to cost upwards of $5 million.

The institute is administered by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority in partnership with the Corporation for Supportive Housing, and will provide the funding and technical assistance necessary to develop the apartment complex

MHA of West Central Indiana’s proposal was one of five approved, including three in Indianapolis and one in Fort Wayne.

MHA of West Central Indiana currently operates 70 housing units and eight rental assisted units targeting different demographics in the community.

“Monday’s announcement is a huge win for our community,” Wilkey said. “Evidence has demonstrated that supportive housing is highly effective in helping persons experiencing chronic homelessness reintegrate into the community.”

Another housing project on the horizon is the tiny home construction that will start in January. The project is a partnership with Indiana State University’s School of Construction Technology.

Nine or 10 tiny homes will be built on two lots near 14th and Chase streets.

Another 16 properties have also been recently gifted to the organization by the Vigo County Commissioners for the construction of additional housing.

Wilkie said Terre Haute is part of the national crisis of an affordable housing deficit.

Certain factors, such as being a college town, drive the lack of safe and affordable housing, she said. Often, the working poor get priced out of affordable apartment units or the ability to purchase a home.

“Someone making $10 an hour can’t afford $500 monthly rent,” Wilkie said. “Wages haven’t kept up with rent prices.”

Also, some units that are affordable are not safe and are often substandard.

Wilkie said the organization has had “significant success” housing people with barriers such as low-income and disabilities. The goal is to get those people into permanent housing, and to reduce to zero the number of people experiencing chronic homelessness.

For more information about MHA of West Central Indiana, go online to www.mhawci.org.

Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or at lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter at TribStarLisa.

Lisa Trigg has been a reporter at the Tribune-Star since 2009. With more than 30 years of newspaper experience, she now covers general news with a focus on crime and courts.

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