August 26, 2019 - A new initiative designed to enhance neighborhoods and provide additional opportunities for other programs aimed at improving the quality of life in Fort Wayne is set to be discussed and voted on by City Council on Tuesday.
The initiative was announced last month by Mayor Tom Henry who was joined by neighborhood and community leaders, partner agencies, and City of Fort Wayne staff members who will be part of the planning and implementation processes.
The programming possibilities are a result of additional revenues collected by the State of Indiana through income taxes. A total of $3.86 million is being distributed to the City of Fort Wayne over and above what was budgeted for in 2019.
Highlights of efforts the City is proposing to enact to continue to move the community forward in a positive direction:
*The “Investing in Neighborhoods Now” program - $1 million would be set aside to empower residents to make neighborhood improvements. Each of the City’s four area partnerships would receive $250,000. Planning committees would be established in each area partnership to develop project ideas. The City’s Community Development Division would work with the area partnerships to ensure projects comply with City regulations and restrictions.
*The Office of Housing and Neighborhood Services’ Homeowner Repair Program that provides heating, air conditioning or roof replacement – An investment of $1 million would expand the homeowner repair program. The program that just closed in May 2019 had more than 500 residents who called and completed a pre-screening. Of those residents, OHNS only had the funding to serve 35 homeowners. This expansion of the program would be open to families with up to 100 percent of the Area Median Income (100% AMI for a family of four is $68,812) and approximately 90 households could be helped in the first year. Because the program is a 0% interest loan, a revolving loan fund would be established and at least $120,000 each year would be returned to the fund to assist additional families.
*An expansion of the Commercial Façade Grant program - $250,000 would go toward additional projects to assist business owners in making improvements to the exterior of their commercial properties. Mayor Henry introduced the Commercial Façade Grant program in 2008 to help local businesses thrive and expand. At the end of 2019, more than 100 projects will have been completed.
*Continuation of efforts to address the opioid epidemic - $300,000 would assist the Fort Wayne Police Department with new drug testing equipment. Currently, the Indiana State Police performs most of these tests. This investment would expedite the process and provide more comprehensive results on substances present, keeping the FWPD on the cutting edge of new drug trends. An allocation of $200,000 would assist The Lutheran Foundation with Allen County’s Sober Living Pilot, which provides 71 new beds at three levels of care for individuals in the criminal justice system battling substance use disorder.
*Partnership with Easterseals Arc of Northeast Indiana which provides support for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities - $500,000 would be used for vocational assessment and skills training, workforce development, and accessibility. In 2017, Fort Wayne was named an Ability City by Ability Indiana as a recognition of the community’s commitment to supporting the employment of individuals with disabilities. Also, in 2017, Fort Wayne and Allen County partnered in the creation of the City-County Disability Advisory Council to assist in providing equal access for people with disabilities with employment, services, programs, and activities.
*$610,000 would go into the City’s cash reserves.