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5/12/2018 10:31:00 AM
Developer converting Lebanon complex to income-based housing

Leeann Doerflein, Lebanon Reporter Reporter

The Lebanon apartment community now known as Hickory Commons will be converted to low-income housing by the Noblesville-based organization Hamilton County Area Neighborhood Development, Inc., commonly known as HAND.

The non-profit housing developer is investing more than $2 million to acquire and renovate the complex, which is comprised of 17 duplexes on two cul-de-sacs, Lafayette Court and Cedars Court, near the intersection of Lafayette Avenue and Camp Street.

HAND Executive Director Jennifer Miller said all but five of the units will be set based on income of the occupants, and below the limits set annually for such units by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The remaining five units will have market-rate rents. One other unit will be converted to a leasing office space with a community room open to all residents. 

Since the apartment complex was built in the 1950s, Miller said HAND is planning to update the units and fix delayed maintenance issues. Renovations are expected to take about a year, but Miller said the construction is not expected to displace current residents. In case unexpected problems arise that would cause a tenant to be displaced, she said unoccupied units will be available during construction.

Much of the project was funded with state and federal dollars from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority: $1 million was awarded from the federal HOME program and $500,000 from the state Community Development Block Grant program. The balance came from Lake City Bank as a private loan.

Miller said HAND is excited to be expanding to Boone County. Over the past 15 years, HAND has invested $19 million in housing projects in Noblesville, Cicero and Sheridan, with another complex to open its doors in Carmel next month.

“Our mission is to provide housing and neighborhood development, and we don’t want to limit ourselves to one geographic area,” Miller said. “Every community needs housing options, and we are well-positioned to help.”

Lebanon has been on Miller’s radar for a while. When she found Hickory Commons was listed for sale, she applied for funding.<

“We are excited to be expanding to Lebanon,” Miller said. “We think this is an opportunity where we can really make a difference.”

As two of the fastest growing communities in the state, Miller said Hamilton and Boone counties both lack affordable housing for senior citizens, early-career professionals and service workers. For example, she said studies have found that demand for affordable housing in Hamilton County exceeds supply by more than 10,000 units — a gap that will take more than 100 years to fill at the current pace of construction, assuming all things remain equal.

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