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South Bend Housing Authority devises demolition, rebuild plan for apartments

Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 6:54 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - It looks like it may ‘take a village,’ to rebuild South Bend’s troubled housing authority.

16 News Now first reported Friday that officials expect the authority will have to demolish its two biggest apartment buildings due to a lack of maintenance over the years.

Together those buildings contain 254 units which is nearly one third of the authority’s total inventory.

On one hand, the authority has already asked for federal permission to demolish its six-story high rise known as the Rabbi Shulman property off Western Avenue.

On the other hand, “We’re also putting together a request for proposals to bring in a developer to work with us on the redevelopment of the site and we’ll be pursuing a tax credit initiative reaching out to the city to support the rebuilding for that physical location,” said South Bend Housing Authority Executive Director Catherine Lamberg.

The authority will turn to a public private partnership in the hopes of speeding up the construction of a new building on the site of the Rabbi Shulman building off Western Avenue.

Lamberg expects the same scenario to play out at the Westcott apartments—the authority’s other poorly maintained high rise.

The South Bend Heritage Foundation is one private, not-for-profit developer that would be pleased to join the conversation.

About 55-percent of Heritage households already use rental vouchers through the housing authority—that’s about 200-households in total.

In a written statement, Heritage Foundation Executive Director Marco Mariani said it was clear that “South Bend and St. Joseph County have entered a critical point” in the provision of affordable rental housing. The statement says Heritage is “eager to discover how we might do more together.”

The housing authority expects to select a private co-developer in the next 60-days.

A written statement from South Bend Mayor James Mueller states that the city is in conversation about a possible partnership but that given the authority’s “troubled history” accountability mechanisms would be required.

“But coupled with a holistic plan for replacement of the building definitely should give hope to the community in general that, you know, while the old structure needs to come down, the new replacement housing will be just as beneficial and will be a part of this community as the old building was,” said Catherine Lamberg.

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