Three organizations teamed up to propose a $5.2 million facility designed to help stop young adults leaving foster care from ending up homeless.
The Courtyard of Fort Wayne was unveiled Monday before community members, government and housing officials. Under a mostly federally funded project, the 36-unit residence plans to provide housing to young adults who “age out” of the foster care system at 18.
The program would take root at the former Duemling Clinic, which would be razed to make way for The Courtyard at 2828 Fairfield Ave.
Fort Wayne Plan Commission members will learn about the complex at 6 p.m. Oct. 8 during a public hearing at Citizens Square.
SCAN is working in conjunction with Delphos, Ohio-based SAFY or Specialized Alternatives for Families and Youth and Ideal Suburban Homes of Decatur. SCAN – Stop Child Abuse and Neglect – will own The Courtyard, SAFY will run the program and Ideal Suburban will build and manage the 2.4-acre property.
While federal dollars will pay most of the cost, the state is contributing $475,000 and the city $377,000.
Residents at the 45,000-square-foot building will have access to counseling, job/life skills courses, assistance with obtaining a high school/GED diploma, parenting education and other services.
Ideal Suburban President Kevan Biggs said after demolition of the clinic he anticipates construction on The Courtyard to wrap up by the end of next year. Leasing would start in 2014. Residents are required to pay 30 percent of their income to live at the residence. Those who are unemployed would pay nothing.
“There will be certain requirements that will vary depending on a person’s situation,” Biggs said.
For instance, those recovering from abuse would receive counseling and other support before being expected to enter the workplace. Officials said there are as many as 500 young adults in Fort Wayne each year who could qualify to live at The Courtyard.
While the program can’t help all eligible individuals it will save some who are left “couch surfing” because they don’t have a home, said Donna Bolinger, director of business for SAFY.
The community and others are, “looking to us to get it right when getting it right really matters,” she said, speaking to about 40 people attending Monday’s event outside the former clinic.
City boosters said another benefit of The Courtyard is that it will serve a worthwhile purpose at the Duemling site. Fort Wayne Community Schools bought the building for $800,000 in 1994, but plans to use it fell through with the district selling it 10 years later for $290,000. There were plans for senior housing, and a drug and alcohol rehab center at the site, but none ever materialized.
Bolinger said now the location will serve a good cause.
“Forty percent of all adults living in homeless shelters have at some point in their lives gone through the foster care system,” she said, adding The Courtyard is the first of its kind in the state.
“This is something that is needed.”