MDC approves affordable housing measures for Hillside, Martindale-Brightwood area

Indianapolis’ Hillside neighborhood will become a housing tax increment financing district, after the Metropolitan Development Commission unanimously bestowed final approval on the designation at a Wednesday meeting.

It’ll be part of a new redevelopment zone in the Greater Martindale-Brightwood area, established in the same proposal, meant to combat resident displacement as higher housing prices creep into the community.

“Designation as a [redevelopment area] and creation of a housing program are important steps to support the sustainable, equitable redevelopment of the Martindale-Brightwood area,” Department of Metropolitan Development Senior Planner Daniel Hedglin told commissioners.

The area includes four neighborhoods: Hillside, Martindale-Brightwood, Oakhill and Ralston-Hovey-Arsenal. Staff, community organizations and residents have been working on the housing district—known as a HOTIF—the redevelopment zone and a plan for the area for two years.

“Martindale-Brightwood, led by Edna Martin Christian Center, put together an education zone; we have very quality schools in the area,” said Amina Pierson, executive director of the Martindale-Brightwood Community Development Corporation. “There are a lot of families who[se children] attend the schools but cannot find affordable housing in the area. So this was an initiative to help fill the gap.”

The HOTIF means some of the property tax revenue coming from Hillside will go into a set-aside fund for creation and preservation of affordable housing, infrastructure to support the housing and other uses permitted under state law.

To qualify for the HOTIF designation, an area must meet strict standards: 3/4 of the land must be residential, 1/3 of the units must be pre-1941, 1/3 of the parcels must be vacant and 1/3 of the parcels must meet another characteristic— like being property tax delinquent or having a housing code violation.

Hillside’s HOTIF will come with an advisory committee, where community leaders and other residents will meet with city staff to guide how the funds are spent.

“I want you to hold us accountable if you start feeling the pressure from outside buyers, if you start feeling the pressure from people coming in and asking you to move out, because we see that happening” in some historically non-white neighborhoods, said Councilor Ali Brown at the Nov. 29 City-County Council committee meeting on the proposal.

“I think the expectation is that we will continue to hold each other accountable, especially as it relates to the introduction of the advisory committee,” Barato Britt, president and CEO of the Edna Martin Christian Center, told Brown.

“We ask you all, likewise, as part of this proposal, not to just look at the amenities, the infrastructure supports, and the things that we seek to improve, but [for] recognition that the residents themselves can and should play a very active and engaged role in how these resources are deployed,” Britt said.

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