Gary’s South Shore Commons: new hope for homeless
By Carole Carlson email@example.com/648-3154 March 31, 2013 10:22PM
Workers install silt fencing at the site of the future South Shore Commons facility in Gary Wednesday afternoon. Edgewater Systems and partners will build a 60-unit on the site off of 20th Avenue and Pierce Street. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media
South Shore Commons facts
What: $12 million, 60-unit development to house homeless mentally ill residents
Where: 20th Avenue and Pierce Street, Gary
Who: Edgewater Systems of Balanced Living, partnering with Broadway Area Community Development Corp., UP Development, NSP Consultants and the city of Gary.
Contact: Edgewater Systems, 945-9054.
Updated: April 2, 2013 3:31PM
GARY — By December, there could be a permanent housing solution for homeless, mentally ill people in Lake County.
Edgewater Systems for Balanced Living in Gary has engineered the $12 million project with help from several partners. Officials say it’s the first venture of its kind in the county.
Last week, crews began clearing the 5-acre property at 20th Avenue and Pierce Street, just west of the Gary Housing Authority’s Delaney Public Housing Center, to make way for South Shore Commons.
The development will include 48 one-bedroom and 12 two-bedroom apartments, said Renee Tomczak, spokeswoman for Edgewater Systems. It’s the first of its kind in Lake County, she said.
“People with violent tendencies won’t be accepted,” she said. “We’re located in a neighborhood. The goal is to keep everybody safe.”
Before starting the project, Tomczak said meetings were held in the neighborhood to inform the community and the response was supportive.
She said the project dates back to 2009 with a vision to create stability for people who struggle with homelessness and mental illness. “The best way to meet the needs of the homeless is to build a permanent solution,” she said.
Partnering with Edgewater is the Broadway Area Community Development Corp., UP Development, NSP Consultants and the city of Gary.
Vernita Leslie, of Broadway Area CDC, said the four-year project suffered setbacks along the way. “But in 12 months we’ll have a building for 60 individuals who will take a journey toward a wonderful life.”
Leslie said out of six similar projects in Indiana, South Shore Commons is the final one to break ground.
Edgewater, which owns the property, will provide a myriad of services to residents including case management, therapy, and job training.
“The goal is to help the homeless individual transition back into traditional life, and help them become self sufficient,” said Tomczak.
She said as the development is completed, Edgewater will begin reaching out to area homeless shelters to locate qualified residents.
Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson she looks forward to the services it will provide the homeless. “This is what a successful public-private relationship looks like,” she said.
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