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NEAR rehabilitating St. Clair Place on city’s near east side

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — There’s an ongoing effort to revitalize Indianapolis’ near east side neighborhood.

A non-profit group called NEAR has been working for several years to build new homes and fix up existing homes.

When Near East Side Renewal began working in 2009, nearly half the properties in St. Clair Place were vacant.

The picture is a bit different seven years later, for the better.

Many vacant lots have turned into new homes.

“We are proud of over 80 houses that we’ve developed in St. Clair Place,” NEAR Executive Director John Franlin Hay said.

“We are a non-profit organization. We’re a community based organization,” he said.

He said there’s been great progress on streets like Hamilton Avenue, where Casey Dodson has lived for 33 years.

“It’s been overwhelming to see all the new houses coming up, but I think it’s a great idea, it’s got the neighborhood looking much better,” she said.

NEAR builds new homes and help current residents fix up their properties.

“We’ve assisted with homeowner repair for 150 houses in St. Clair Place,” he said.

The group’s focus is keeping current residents in their homes and placing income caps on those purchasing or renting the new homes.

“We’re encouraging folks to reinvest in this neighborhood and making the first option an opportunity for folks who have limited income,” he said.

He said violent crime has gone down significantly since they began work in St. Clair Place.

Dodson said she feels safer with the new homes and the new neighbors moving in.

“I think it will do very good things for the neighborhood,” she said, “I think we’ll have new families come in and new kids to play with.”

Franklin Hay calls this area a work in progress and his organization will continue its mission with new parks and more new homes.

“We are very happy about what’s taken place in St. Clair Place thus far, we are hopeful for the future,” he said.

NEAR is working with the city county council to enact some property tax caps for the current residents in those neighborhoods to make sure they can afford to keep living there even as the property values climb.