The Bloomington Housing and Neighborhood Development (HAND) department announced plans to build new affordable housing units in northwest Bloomington on August 24th.
HAND Director John Zody said the department takes three things into account when building affordable housing. This includes housing security, rental housing and home ownership.
“For this project, we are focused on making people’s housing secure,” Zody said.
Housing security focuses on making homes permanently affordable. According to an article in The Herald-Times, permanently affordable is defined as 99 years.
Affordable and secure housing is one of several plans to help decrease Bloomington’s unhoused population.
“When it comes to homelessness, we are working to make it rare, brief and non-repeating,” Zody said.
Although this project is targeted toward underemployed residents, Zody does not want to exclude students from affordable housing.
“We try not to separate the population,” Zody said. “We think about each renter as an individual and increasing their supply. We work with any developer that comes in and try to achieve some affordable housing with that development.”
IU Junior Emily Anderson said the university lacks student parking and considering that most affordable housing is further off campus this is difficult for a lot of students, especially those paying their own rent.
“I think students should have more affordable housing options,” Anderson said. “We pay a lot of money to go to school here already and when you add housing to the mix it can be expensive to get nice affordable housing that is close to campus.”
Zody said, when low-cost homes are built, people who want to become homeowners then leave their affordable units to buy these homes. When they leave their old units, it creates replacement housing for those looking to rent. This process is a continuum helping people become secure in their housing .
“Any additional affordable housing that we can add to the market is going to be a big boom for everyone across the board,” Dana Jones, a director at Wheeler Mission Homeless Shelter for Men, said. “We have a high population of underemployed individuals who stay here at Wheeler. Affordable housing will be very helpful for them.”
According to Jones, underemployed people in Bloomington are individuals who have a job and are not being paid enough. These people are experiencing episodic periods of being unhoused and typically make a wage of $15 an hour or less.
Zody said that the Bloomington HAND Department aimed this project to help those who are underemployed find affordable, secure and permanent housing, which in return will hopefully help decrease the amount of people who are unhoused in Bloomington.