Young adults aging out of foster care often have nowhere to go. In Fort Wayne, Ind., they now have The Courtyard.
Developed by Stop Child Abuse and Neglect and Biggs TC Development, the 36-unit project is the first affordable housing community in Indiana to target this population.
Since opening last year, The Courtyard has helped people living on the streets as well as those imminently close to being homeless. “We’ve been able to give them a stable place that connects them with resources,” says Kevan Biggs, president of Biggs TC Development.
At The Courtyard, residents receive strong support from nonprofit Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth (SAFY). The services largely focus on education, skill-based training, and employment. A half block away is the Educational Opportunity Center (EOC), which provides free GED classes, tutoring, and computer technology training.
In 2012, 226 men and women between 18 and 21 aged out of foster care in Allen County, where Fort Wayne is located, according to officials. For some, this will be the first time they've had their own apartment. To help residents become independent, the developers included a demonstration kitchen at the property that is used to teach residents how to cook. The cooking classes may also help residents gain skills to work in local restaurants.
The Courtyard is an important project for the neighborhood, too, replacing a long-vacant, blighted medical clinic. “It was a very high priority not only for the neighborhood but [for] the city of Fort Wayne, [as well],” Biggs says.
The $8.7 million development is being financed largely with low-income housing tax credits, which were syndicated by Great Lakes Capital Fund to raise $5.8 million in equity. The city of Fort Wayne provided federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds.
The project has a project-based Sec. 8 contract with the Fort Wayne Housing Authority, so residents pay only 30% of their income toward rent.