NeighborLink Indianapolis plans to double the number of homeowners it helps with repair projects by the end of the year, with a goal of working with 2,500 homeowners by 2030.
NeighborLink, a nonprofit that works with low-income seniors and people with disabilities, will accelerate its pace of repairs thanks to a $100,000 grant from Impact 100 Greater Indianapolis, a charitable women’s group.
The nonprofit serves all of Marion County but focuses on areas where there are more health code citations. Rachel Nelson, director of external affairs and communications for NeighborLink, said the group has an informal relationship with the county health department, which helps homeowners connect with the organization for repairs and renovations.
NeighborLink mostly uses volunteer labor but sometimes hires specialists for certain projects. Residents must be at or below 150% of the federal poverty level to qualify. Learn more at nlindy.org.
Cecile Treece, who lives off of Emerson Avenue on the east side, has had her roof and door repaired, and she’s waiting for work on her ceiling and back door. She’s lived in her home for 46 years. (NeighborLink hasn’t done indoor projects during the pandemic but plans to start again by the end of summer.)
“It helps me a lot,” said Treece, 66, who’s retired and lives on a fixed income. “I can’t afford it, to get it fixed. It makes my house more secure.”
The point of doing no-cost home repairs is to help seniors and people with disabilities age in place and with dignity. Nelson said gentrification is outside the scope of what NeighborLink focuses on, but it’s a natural part of helping people — especially seniors — continue to live where they have for decades.
A study from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition released in June 2020 showed Indianapolis ranked No. 12 on the list of most intensely gentrifying cities in the U.S. from 2013 to 2017.
NeighborLink recently worked with a woman who’s been in her home in the Kennedy-King neighborhood for 40 years, Nelson said, and in the last year she’s seen more activity from developers. Then she found herself with citations from the health department.
“You can kind of put things together,” Nelson said.
Other organizations also see value in home repairs as a means of combating the effects of gentrification.
The city works with local partners on a community development program called Lift Indy, which uses federal funds for projects such as mortgage refinance programs and home repairs. Lift Indy neighborhoods include Martindale-Brightwood and East 10th Street.
Adjacent to home repairs are property tax relief programs, which are meant to help longtime homeowners in gentrifying areas get a deduction on their tax bills that can rise to unaffordable levels. Rep. Cherrish Pryor, D-Indianapolis, introduced a bill in the Statehouse during the last legislative session to establish such a program, but it died in committee.
Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.