Innovative Housing/Transportation Project Selects Developers

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The partners behind a new program to provide a combination of energy efficient affordable housing and transportation have announced the two developers to embark on the project. Called “Moving Forward,” the program is designed to meet what are generally a household’s two greatest expenses – housing and transportation – and strategically reduce the cost of each.

The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority has selected BWI LLC and Pedcor Investments as the lead entities on the developments, and set aside 10 percent of the Rural Housing Tax Credit to undertake their projects. The goal is to create housing that increases quality of life while decreasing the cost of living for residents with low to moderate incomes.

“In our arena, we typically focus on 30 percent of income going toward housing, under the definition of affordability, and transportation is 15 percent,” explains Jacob Sipe, the executive director of the IHCDA. “For a tenant, our objective is to understand the two greatest expenses and move the needle for them, to have more income to generate assets for themselves.”

The IHCDA’s key partner in the project is Indianapolis-based Energy Systems Network, which conceptualized the program and will provide the chosen developers with access to some of the leading experts in energy, design, and finance from Indiana and around the country.

“We will host one of our Innovation Workshops, with members of our network of experts to work alongside the developers,” says ESN President and CEO Paul Mitchell, adding that representatives from Duke Energy, Vectren and Cummins will be among those taking part. “This moves you forward in a matter of days, what could take months if done by emails and phone calls.”

Ultimately, the “Moving Forward” projects will be a combination of highly-efficient buildings that will save tenants a significant amount in energy costs and be located in such a way that transportation expense can also be brought to a minimum. Mitchell says that could mean anything from bus service to electric vehicle sharing, bike shares or even urban trails.

Sipe admits financing the projects will be a challenge, but believes the method of choosing the developers first, then providing them with access to the team of experts for six months of consultation on their individual projects can yield dramatic results.

“In Indiana, we definitely have the talent and the capacity to pull something off like this. We have a great resource of developers, a great resource of leadership here in our state in the private and the public sector to really take on an endeavor like this,” notes Sipe.

“I want to applaud the state of Indiana for this,” says Mitchell. “We’ve done some research and don’t think any other state is doing anything like this. Often the folks dealing with affordable housing and affordable transportation are making investments in lowering costs, but they’re not actually talking to one another, and we’re focusing on that innovative outcome from the start.”

“Beyond the two developments, we’re also really hopeful that the learnings that go into these projects will be expanded by the developers that are involved in this project as well as all the subject matter experts we’re pulling together and the researchers being able to share these learnings across the state, across the country and to transition some of the strategies not only to additional affordable housing developments but also to market-based development.”

ESN's Paul Mitchell describes how the developments will attract attention to Indiana.
Jacob Sipe, IHCDA, explains how the projects are about implementation, not theory..
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