Bill targets homeowners in revitalized neighborhoods

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An Indianapolis woman is advocating for state legislation that would help struggling homeowners pay property taxes in revitalized neighborhoods.

“I want to put a face to a person that this bill will serve,” said Peggy Gamlin, 65.

Gamlin is referring to House Bill 1026, a bill that would allow local governments to establish a neighborhood enhancement property tax relief program.

Under the proposed program, longtime homeowners in designated distressed areas could be eligible to receive a deduction in their property tax-assessed value of their home.

Government officials would designate the challenged regions where property values have increased as a result of refurbishments, renovations or residential developments.

The deduction is 90 percent of the increased value, according to Rep. Cherrish Pryor, D-Indianapolis.

“What we want to do is make sure individuals who have stayed in neighborhoods for a long period of time, whose property taxes are now drastically increasing, are not losing their homes,” Pryor said.

In order to be eligible for the deduction, homeowners are required to have lived on their property for at least 10 years.

Gamlin is a longtime resident of the Riverside neighborhood on the near west side of Indianapolis. After leaving her home in the neighborhood as a young adult to pursue a college education and a career, Gamlin returned to what she called the “distressed neighborhood” in an effort to make a difference.

“I went from a professional employee to a retiree,” Gamlin said. “In doing so, I went from a great-paying job to now living on a very limited fixed income. If my property value, for some reason, goes up the percentage it has done in other neighborhoods like Fountain Square, that means that I have to come up with that money as a retiree. I don’t have a way of doing that.”

While testifying in support for the bill at Thursday’s House Ways and Means Committee meeting, Gamlin referenced the developments completed in her neighborhood.

Gamlin pointed to one example in which her neighborhood association worked to redevelop the area was by turning the vacant Busch Stadium, the former home of the Indianapolis Indians, into stadium lofts.

“I never would have thought that my working in that neighborhood, trying to make things happen, trying to get it poised for all the great things that could happen could actually force me out of it,” Gamlin said.

She added that the only way that she and the neighbors she represents can be saved from moving to a more affordable neighborhood is by the passage of the bill.

Indianapolis City-County Council member Vop Osili, D-District 11, also spoke in favor of HB 1026 at Thursday’s meeting.

“A number of areas are undergoing a significant amount of investment,” Osili said. “What is important is that when these investments come, and when the property taxes begin to go up, a lot of these longtime homeowners will be able to afford to stay and enjoy the benefits of those communities.”

Everyone who testified at the meeting was in favor of HB 1026. None of the legislators voiced opposition to the bill.

Pryor encouraged legislators to provide feedback.

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