East Chicago Housing Authority unveils its Five Year Strategic Plan for transformation of its public housing units
The East Chicago Housing Authority has embarked on a five year sustainability campaign to strengthen its operation and achieve sustainability. The primary goal for this effort is to transform the agency from a traditional “Public Housing” agency to a real estate owner and developer company with a mission. The mission is to provide “affordable housing” to low and moderate income residents of the City.
The Authority has provided low cost housing to East Chicago residents since 1959. Given the reality of today’s federal and local environment, the agency is engaging in this transformation process to continue its services while becoming more strategic. This is the primary purpose of the five year strategic plan; to create a road map for the agency to become more sustainable by proactively responding to market forces and diminishing subsidies from Washington.
The five year strategic plan, initiated by Ms. Beatriz Martinez, Executive Director, has established a new vision for the agency. This vision, in par with the Mayor’s Copeland’s vision for the City, promotes sustainability, partnership and a larger commitment to revitalization. The Vision was developed through a six months planning process involving community leaders, Department heads and stakeholders including many residents.
Mayor Anthony Copeland recently invited residents to a public meeting hosted by the Authority at the James W. Knight Public Safety Facility. At this meeting, representatives of the consultant team, the Arsh Group Inc., a Merrillville based Planning firm, presented different elements of the plan and timetable for implementation. In addition, Mayor Copeland and representatives of the Authority responded to many questions asked by the audience.
The Housing Authority owns 793 housing units in five different developments. Most units are built in 1960’s with the average age being about 41 years. The Five-Year Strategic Plan calls for different transformation strategies ranging from replacement of units with new modern units to total renovation. The plan also calls for new construction in several vacant sites in the City for mixed income communities. Specific activities recommended by the plan include;
1. West Calumet Complex (346 units)
In line with the Mayor’s vision, ECHA will complete a new master plan for the West Calumet Neighborhood. This plan will integrate the West Calumet Complex into the larger neighborhood to create a mixed income waterfront neighborhood.
1. Hunter Building & Nicosia Building (109 units)
The Buildings will be renovated to include site improvements, expanded amenities. Upon completion, Hunter will be a mixed-financed development with balconies views Lake Michigan.
1. North Harbor I, II (124 units)
ECHA will conduct viability assessment to determine the final use. Options include using these buildings as a part of the Mayor’s expanded efforts for homeownership, use the sites for new mixed income developments, and retain units as affordable rental housing.
1. Columbus Drive (17 units)
The Development will be retained as is initially. In the long term, the development may be combined with other units for a mixed income redevelopment effort with a combination of affordable and market rate housing.
1. New Development and Acquisition
ECHA will seek to build new affordable housing throughout the City. ECHA will coordinate these efforts with the City to create synergy and expand homeownership. In addition, ECHA will explore feasibility of developing an Assisted Living facility in the City.
1. Provision of Services
A key element of the plan is economic self-sufficiency opportunities for residents. All transformation efforts will include supportive services for residents to expand opportunity for jobs, partnerships for homeownership and opportunity to move to modern mixed income communities.
Organization Contact Person Phone No.
The City of East Chicago Mr. Steve Segura 219 -397-8206
East Chicago Housing Authority (ECHA) Mr. Beatriz Martinez 219-397-9974, ext. 35
Mr. Ron Talley 219-397-9974, ext. 19
The Arsh Group Inc. Mr. Taghi Arshami 219-796-9050