Upgrades to south side apartment complex will add over 300 affordable housing units

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - A new project will add more affordable housing to the south side, without building any new units.

"I’m excited to see what they’re gonna do,” said Ellwyn Parks, a resident at Regency Park South apartments on the south side of Indianapolis. "I’m just excited to see it, we need it.”

The 304 units on the complex will see significant upgrades by the end of next year, after developer Birge and Held received $19 million in bonds from the city. In total, the company is putting $37 million into the property, upgrading everything from cabinets and appliances to roofing and plumbing.

"It was built about 50 years ago and it's had minor improvements made to it since then," said Birge and Helm Managing Director Jarod Brown. "So our rehab is going to be about $35,000 a unit.”

Brown says affordable housing is a major issue in cities across the country. The company hired a third party firm which found the south side is in need of about 2,000 affordable housing units.

“We’re putting a small dent in that with 304 units, but still not nearly what’s needed,” Brown said.

However, turning the complex into affordable housing means residents now have to qualify for Section 42 housing. While Brown says more than 80% will, others like Janet Kirkham's neighbor will have to leave after their lease expires.

“She is kinda heartbroken she has to move because this is where her home has been, her and her husband has lived here for years,” Kirkham said.

Despite that, the plan received bipartisan support from the city-county council, voting to bring more affordable housing to the south side.

“We just have problems with the roof, you know rain coming through and stuff like that," said another resident. "But I mean with the new upgrades that would be great.”

The upgrades also include a new sidewalk connecting to the bus stop. The entire project is expected to be finished by the end of 2019.