A new 36-unit development will give young adults aging out of foster care a place to live and grow in Fort Wayne, Ind.

The Courtyard recently celebrated its completion and welcomed its first residents in mid-July .

Photo by Forrest Feuer
Photo by Forrest Feuer

The supportive housing project targets residents between 18 and 25 years old who are transitioning out of foster care or are at risk of being homeless.

The project is developed by Stop Child Abuse and Neglect, a social service organization in Fort Wayne, and Biggs TC Development, which brought its property development experience to the deal. Another key partner is Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth (SAFY), a nonprofit that will provide case management and other critical services to residents.

The Courtyard is the first affordable housing development in Indiana to target youths leaving foster care, according to Donna Bolinger, SAFY's director of business development.

"I’m getting calls every day from young people wanting to move in here," she says. "There's nothing else like this in the community."

Bolinger, who championed the project from the start, says about 500 individuals transition out of foster care each year in the state. She estimates that about one-third of those young people are in the Fort Wayne area.

That's why The Courtyard is important.

“We’ve been extraordinarily pleased with how it’s all turned out,” says Kevan Biggs of Biggs TC Development. He’s also president of Ideal Suburban Homes, the project’s contractor. “Everyone has been overwhelmed at how nice it has turned out. The building was designed to fit into an older, historic residential neighborhood.”

The Courtyard will place a strong focus on health and wellness. For some residents, this will be the first time that they have their own apartment. To help residents become independent, developers included a demonstration kitchen at the property that will be used to teach residents how to cook.

“We wanted to make sure they understand how to use their kitchens and how to prepare food in a healthy way,” Biggs says, noting that the property will also include a garden to grow produce.

The cooking classes may also help residents gain skills to work in local restaurants.

Designed by MKM Architecture + Design, The Courtyard also includes program and activity space. A signature feature of the property is a courtyard that provides private outdoor space for residents.

The development is also an important addition to the neighborhood. It replaces the long-vacant Duemling Clinic that was demolished to make room for the housing development.

The $8.7 million development is financed largely with low-income housing tax credits from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA). The tax credits, which were syndicated by Great Lakes Capital Fund, provided $5.8 million in equity.

The city of Fort Wayne also provided about $1 million in federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds. IHCDA also provided $755,000 in Tax Credit Assistance Program funds and $378,000 in Community Development Block Grant disaster funds.

The Fort Wayne Housing Authority awarded The Courtyard a project-based Sec. 8 contract so residents will pay 30 percent of their income toward rent.

Connect with Donna Kimura, deputy editor of Affordable Housing Finance, on Twitter @DKimura_AHF.