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New Home, New Hope: Compass on Washington

Creating affordable housing opportunities is undoubtedly important in the effort to assist low-income households in achieving financial and personal success. While the structure itself provides place and protection, some of the most impactful features are born from the dedication and expertise of the various support systems that maintain the community as it grows to its fullest potential. These support systems become even more essential to success when the residents in question are those who have faced or are at risk of homelessness. Nonprofit organizations, mental health professionals and career coaches are just some of the many diverse figures who act as beacons of hope and support for such individuals and families who call affordable developments home.

This full service, in-house support approach for populations facing housing insecurity is one familiar to those involved in the development of Compass on Washington near downtown Indianapolis, which broke ground this November. Englewood Community Development Corporation is responsible for the creation and management of several affordable housing developments in the Near Eastside area of Indianapolis, modelled to foster meaningful community bonds. Their work is centered on the ambition to embody the “love of neighbor,” a mission which guides their work in housing and beyond.

Gratus Development, serving as co-developer for Compass, has robust experience in the creation of affordable housing. Their belief that affordable housing development can and should be more than simply a home is one CREA echoes in its own work. Founder Jonathan Ehlke has been involved in the creation of over 1000 affordable homes through his career, which includes time interacting with the housing challenges faced by Hoosiers across the state with the Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority.

The expertise of Horizon House will play a pivotal role in the supportive services offered at Compass. Central Indiana’s trusted leader in issues of homelessness, Horizon House supports neighbors experiencing homelessness with integrated, comprehensive services so they can secure and maintain housing. Along with unwavering support, these services offer essential needs like food, hygiene, shelter, health services, mailing address, workforce development, case management, and emotional well-being support for those who utilize their programs. This robust experience will be pivotal in assisting the residents of Compass on Washington, which is designated as a permanent supportive housing (PSH) development in which all 36 homes are set aside for those who have chronically experienced homelessness. CREA is proud to have lent support to Horizon House’s mission to assist this vulnerable population in the past and humbled by the chance to do so again with this newest development.

“Compass on Washington is the definition of CREA’s goal to create affordable housing that everyone can be proud of. Through changing markets with turbulent construction costs and interest rates, the development and financing teams were able to keep their respective focuses geared towards the ultimate goal of creating 36 units of much needed affordable housing in Indianapolis, Indiana,” said Adam Lavelle, SVP, Originator at CREA. “It is fulfilling to work with invested development partners like Englewood Community Development Corporation, Gratus Development, and Horizon House whom are truly serving and transforming the communities that they are a part of.”

Each of Compass’ 36 homes will be supported by a rental assistance program that will increase affordability and open the door for those in some of the most vulnerable financial circumstances. However, Compass on Washington will offer so much more than a place to stay. Horizon House will be moving their housing department onto the first floor of the property, while their main offices will continue offering services to those in need at their facility right next door. These are to include help with basic needs, primary medical care, mental health and recovery support, vocational training, transportation support and so much more. Residents can expect the staff of Horizon House to work tirelessly to meet their needs, including.

“We have already seen success in our single site housing,” said Teresa Wessel, Executive Director of Horizon House. “Our Compass on Washington apartments will feature 36 one bedroom units. Neighbors experiencing homelessness will have the stability of a home and intensive case management in a thriving community where people will find dignity, belonging, personal health and well-being.”

Understanding a community’s struggles on a deep level is an undeniable advantage in trying to solve them. Englewood CDC is personally familiar with both the challenges and the opportunities facing the neighborhood in which Compass residents will reside. Their website describes the history of the area as “[having] more ups and downs and twists and turns than a rollercoaster ride.” The history in question is no abstract story to Englewood; the original Englewood Church, with which Englewood CDC is associated, was built in 1897. It is exactly this deep-rooted investment in the community that allows them to be most effective in their work. And the tangible results derived from the group are evidence of just how effective this community-focused approach can be.

"For us at Englewood, we find our compass and way forward from the life of a homeless man who teaches us to love our neighbor as our own,” said Joe Bowling, Executive Director at Englewood Community Development Corporation. “Englewood CDC is incredibly grateful to all of our partners who have worked so hard to make Compass on Washington a reality.”

In addition to the support services mentioned above, Compass on Washington will offer the following amenities to its residents:

· A dedicated community space for residents

· Onsite laundry facilities

· Secure off-street parking

· Nearby transportation offerings (IndyGo public transport)

Last month’s groundbreaking is the beginning of Compass on Washington’s story, with the future looking bright for this service-oriented community. individuals and families who will be afforded the opportunity to begin a new chapter in their lives and approach their aspirations with newfound security will mark the greatest achievements of this affordable community. From the brink of homelessness to the promise of a new home, the impact of this development will be crystal clear. And with these trusted organizations at the helm, CREA looks forward to seeing the vibrant, diverse and supportive community that will be born from it.

“It is an honor and a privilege to do such important work,” said Jonathan Ehlke, Principal/Owner of Gratus Development. “We are grateful for the continued support of our partners like CREA, and look forward to seeing Compass on Washington completed and thriving.”


Financial Support & Partnership:

Compass on Washington was developed using LIHTC equity provided through CREA Corporate Tax Credit Fund 88, LLC. Additional funding was provided through a $9.1MM construction loan from BMO Harris, as well as $5.3MM in permanent loans financed through the city of Indianapolis and an MHS Grant totaling $270K.


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