Faith-based housing project comes to Gary
By Carole Carlson email@example.com/302-0949 January 21, 2014 5:16PM
Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson is joined by Pastor Chet Johnson Sr. of the Fuller Center for Housing, at a Tuesday press conference to announce a partnership to build or renovate 12 houses in the city. | Carole Carlson/Post-Tribune
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Updated: February 23, 2014 6:30AM
GARY — The city is partnering with an international, faith-based housing organization to build or renovate a dozen houses and sell them at no interest to qualified home buyers.
Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson introduced the new initiative Tuesday with representatives from the Fuller Center for Housing, a Georgia-based organization that now has an office in the city at 4950 Broadway.
Freeman-Wilson said the houses were selected in September, but she declined to give their locations. “We are being intentionally vague about the area because of speculation that occurs in the city.”
Some of the properties will be renovated and some will be built new from the ground up, Freeman-Wilson said. Construction is expected to begin in August. Some of the demolition work will be done by inmates through a partnership with the Indiana Department of Correction.
In the meantime, Freeman-Wilson said the city will line up investors. The Northern Indiana Public Service Co. is already signed on as a partner.
New Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Chet J. Johnson Sr. is chairman of the Fuller Center’s Gary project.
“This initiative is not one of a hand-out nature, it’s more of a hand-up,” he said. Johnson said the Fuller Center was established in 2005 by the late philanthropist Millard Fuller who founded Habitat for Humanity 30 years ago.
“It’s a rolling-up-the sleeve initiative,” Johnson said of the ecumenical Christian organization.
Like Habitat for Humanity, homeowners work with volunteers to build their own homes, which are sold to them at no profit.
Families are selected by a local board of directors and income requirements vary among communities. Typically, though, applicants can’t qualify for conventional loans and must be willing to help build the house and be able to pay the mortgage.
Aaron Carmichael, chief development officer for the Fuller Center, said the Gary office is its second in Indiana. The first one was in Indianapolis.
Jeff Cardwell, special assistant to Gov. Mike Pence, said while the state won’t provide money toward the effort, it will collaborate with the partners to bring the faith-based community together.
“It’s all about building hope and restoring dreams,” said Cardwell. “It’s not just about a housing program, it’s about rebuilding lives, and planting seeds of hope.”