Woodruff President’s Message 2018-08

According to SAVI, it was only seven years ago when the Near Eastside was home to the highest rate of foreclosures in the county at 11% which doubled the national average. It was only eight years ago that Marion County home vacancy was 7% but the Near Eastside was more than three times that, coming in at an eyebrow raising 24%. Those numbers provide clear evidence of an upside down housing stock crisis – too many homes, not enough home dwellers. Growing vacancy is a first step in continued neighborhood decline – businesses close, tax revenue goes down, city services suffer, illicit opportunities take advantage and so on.

Since then, things have been changing and the pace is picking up. Neighborhood pillar organizations have tirelessly worked to enhance the community. Individual neighborhoods have taken up the challenge of restoring homes from what were empty buildings or overly-dense multifamily units. Companies have relocated operations here. Businesses have chosen the area to open new ventures. We have witnessed a critical mass of private individuals, not-for-profit, city leadership and corporate investment interest come to the table. All of that investment is now beginning to reap new rewards and people who once overlooked the area are looking here first.

Some are drawn to the allure of an 1890’s Queen Anne and others are being enticed by brand new construction. Businesses are repurposing vacated structures and setting up shop. But those who have been here throughout it all are not being forgotten or overlooked. Near East Area Renewal has renovated or rebuilt over 100 homes to date and each property came from surplus city stock and reportedly, no one was displaced in that process. Caulk of the Town brings neighbors together and helps those who are unable to perform ongoing home maintenance, allowing them to stay in their homes. Change is brewing here on the Near Eastside and it is almost all positive. I hope that we can think of the growth as re-population. Re-population of families, re-establishing of businesses, re-investment of taxes, re-storing a sense of community we can all be proud of.