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Neighborhood group questions use for westside renovated apartment complex

(WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Pershing Place apartments in the 1400 block of Pershing Avenue on the city’s near westside has a new coat of paint and new windows.

From the outside, it looks like the building has undergone a total restoration. The building is ready for new tenants, but the neighborhood is saying slow down. “They look at a neighborhood of color, low to moderate income, and drop it in without any conversation,” said longtime Haughville activist Olgen Williams. “if you care about people, work with people.”  

Pershing Place apartments has not been a place people would call home for a number of years. According to Marion County property records, Pershing Partners LLC bought the building last summer and has since renovated the property. We are told they plan to use the building for permanent supportive housing, which would provide housing to people that might otherwise be homeless.

The details on who will be living here have not been made clear according to Robert Laster, a longtime Haughville business owner. “They told us that it would be a permanent housing solution for those that are disabled, but as we sat at the table with them before, you tell us anything to get the door open, and once the door is open, you do what you want to do,” said Laster. He continued to say Horizon House and the Buckingham Foundation have formed a partnership to operate the building. Neither of these organizations were present today. (A complete statement from Buckingham Foundation is listed below). 

Pastor Ronald Covington says there is a plan in place for the future of Haughville and the planned use of this building isn’t part of the plan. “We were told that it doesn’t matter how we feel about this project, we are going to do it anyway,” said Covington. 

According to the Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development, the current zoning for the building covers its use for permanent supportive housing, which means the city will not require a public hearing.  

“This was vacate for how long? For years. When it was open, it wasn’t the best property for our neighborhood,” said Williams as he fielded questions from reporters.  

The Pershing Place apartments is getting a new lease on life, but not one the neighborhood plans to embrace 

“For somebody to have the nerve to come and say ‘It really doesn’t matter how you all feel about it, we are doing this anyway,’ that is a total injustice to our community,” said Covington  

The date on when new tenants are expected hasn’t been publicly announced. 

“In response to the recent comments that came from the Haughville Community Press Conference this morning, Buckingham Foundation remains committed to providing affordable housing opportunities for families in need and to the communities in which we serve.

The proposed partnership with Horizon House at Pershing Place answers a charitable call and community wide cry for help by addressing the need for affordable housing and supportive services. The project and partnership will provide 24 affordable housing units, giving some of the most vulnerable individuals in our community the chance to thrive through long-term, stable housing and connections to supportive services. Our goal is to help those individuals to a better and sustainable path, fighting homelessness in our community.

We are aware of the comments and concerns expressed by the individuals in the Haughville community. Buckingham Foundation met with the community members on a number of occasions, including in June to listen to resident and community leader concerns. We met, again at the end of July, to share transparent information with the Haughville community regarding the permanent supportive housing project, addressing specifics on:○ The stringent process proposed screening residents for criminal background checks

○ Proposed terms for lease agreement

○ Outline of supportive services offered by Horizon House to the residents of this permanent supportive housing project (not a halfway house)

○ Eviction Prevention Plan

○ Our responsibilities to the Housing Agency to remain compliant with all requirements

The concerns of the Haughville community were heard and thoughtfully considered along with the concerns of those most vulnerable whose voices are often ignored if even heard. We remain committed to the Haughville Community in that we will remain transparent, collaborative, and communicative throughout the project’s inception and beyond. We also remain committed to improving the Haughville neighborhood through grant funding opportunities and volunteerism. It is our intention that our partnerships with neighborhood communities and organizations like Horizon House, will continue to strive to meet the holistic needs of our neighbors and to support”

Buckingham Foundation