The history of Project Neighbors follows a long list of opportunities taken. A need presents itself and this small group of citizens responds. With no rigid mission (feed the poor, buy eyeglasses for children, support the library), this allows for a diversity of action: housing, daycare, healthcare, education, human relations, economic development. All of these have been areas of effort for Project Neighbors.
The phenomenal success of HealthLinc (the largest community health center in Indiana) presented a different kind of opportunity. With urgent need for a much larger facility, HealthLinc decided to leave the building on the corner of Union and College Streets and build a new facility on Sturdy Road. As of August 2013, the old HealthLinc building was empty. Project Neighbors and the larger community had been an integral part in the creation of this building.
“But an empty building is not a community need”, you say. Right, but the need for affordable housing is a constant in this community. Anticipating HealthLinc’s departure, Project Neighbors wrestled with what do with this great building; 11,000 sq. ft. – built by the community. After several months of conversation amongst the PN board and with allies Housing Opportunities, the city of Valpo, United Way, Porter County Community Foundation, and Hilltop Neighborhood House the vision of “Neighbors Place – A Residence for Women” was created. The need for affordable housing in Valparaiso is well documented. Most efforts are directed at families with children leaving single individuals with limited income at the mercy of the marketplace. Housing Opportunities has a waiting list of 30 individuals in need right now.
The plan is to remodel the second and third floor; remove medical rooms and build eighteen efficiency apartments each with a private bathroom and kitchenette. These new, comfortable spaces will then be available to single women without children at very affordable rates. The target population is women on Social Security, disability income or who qualify for other income reasons.
Management of the eighteen rental units will be in the capable and experienced hands of Housing Opportunities.
Rental candidates’ applications will be screened, leases prepared and additional services offered by H.O.