The first supportive housing development in Indiana addressing the extensive needs of youth aging out of foster care is now successfully operating. The Fort Wayne Housing Authority and Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth of America (“SAFY”), a leading national nonprofit organization that provides services for youth in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems, have partnered with SCAN, Inc., a social service organization whose sole mission is to eliminate the abuse and neglect of children through family services, education, and community partnerships, and Biggs Property Management, to build The Courtyard. SAFY led a team through the CSH/Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority Indiana Permanent Supportive Housing Institute. CSH will also provide ongoing technical assistance.
The Courtyard provides housing and supportive services to accommodate the needs of individuals between the ages of 18-25 who are transitioning out of foster care, experiencing homelessness or at the risk of homelessness. This development provides affordable housing to young adults who may have no other options, but also offers supportive services to the residents 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. These supportive services include, but are not limited to, health and wellness issues as well as career and job development. The complex offers state-of-the-art training areas, arts and crafts labs, a fitness center, educational and employment training programs, a commercially-equipped training kitchen, and a large urban garden.
Kevan Biggs, owner of Biggs Property Management, says The Courtyard is providing opportunities for these young adults that they have never experienced before. “Their eyes just light up the first time they see [their unit]. They can’t believe the whole thing is all theirs.”
Biggs Property Management got involved with The Courtyard project not only because they are experienced in affordable housing, but also because they were aware of the need for this kind of project in Indiana. “Once we realized the epidemic with the foster population and how little resources they have, we felt compelled to help,” Biggs said.
The Courtyard has received excellent support from the community. Funding for this development came through local sources such as the City of Fort Wayne and the Fort Wayne Housing Authority, as well as funding from IHCDA and the City of Fort Wayne including the Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) program, Community Development Block Grant Disaster funding, HOME, NSP Program, and also gap financing from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis.
In the last year, The Courtyard has done so well that the Fort Wayne Housing Authority was awarded the NCRC Housing Achievement Award for Affordable Housing Program of the Year on behalf of their efforts with this development.