City Neighborhood Initiative will help build homes in South Bend

Published: Aug. 29, 2022 at 6:28 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - The City of South Bend is taking a new approach to building homes.

The city released its City Neighborhood Initiative on Monday and the plan to lower development costs for individuals and developers who are interested in pursuing new construction infill projects within the city.

There are many steps involved in this project, but simply put, the goal is to build more homes that South Benders can afford.

City officials spoke today in the Near Northwest Neighborhood (NNN) and laid out the plan to build infill housing in South Bend to address the need for more affordable housing.

“One of the most exciting bits about this is to show families that they can build a smaller home that fits right into the neighborhood, but also there are exciting opportunities to perhaps consider your start home being a duplex, so that perhaps you are able to live in half and rent the other half to another family, which is affordable for both of you, and it just offers a richness of variety in the neighborhood,” said Kathy Schuth, Executive Director for the Near Northwest Neighborhood.

Infill housing is the insertion of additional housing units into an already-approved subdivision or neighborhood. They can be provided as additional units built on the same lot, by dividing existing homes into multiple units, or by creating new residential lots by further subdivisions or lot line adjustments utilized by low- and moderate-income households.

“I think everyone is interested in seeing high-quality, affordable housing in the neighborhood,” said Schuth. “It’s the number one thing I hear in the neighborhood, which is, we love our neighborhood, we love the community, we have strong pride, and that includes how the housing looks. Some people are really interested in seeing affordability, and they’re also interested in housing that looks right.

There are around 400 vacant lots in NNN alone, and locals hope that this project will give Neighborhoods the tools and plans to rebuild their own blocks.

“We know as a community we need to have more housing,” said South Bend Mayor James Mueller. “As we just talked about, we need housing to be affordable, but we also heard that vacant lots in neighborhoods do not make up a healthy and strong neighborhood. We know we have great neighborhoods in South Bend, and we’re committed to those who lost some homes in the recent decades that we can bring back and bring these neighborhoods back to life.”

The pre-approved residential building plans to support new neighborhood housing come in a department store-type catalog, and there are seven options, each with three variations of style to choose from.

“I would really encourage individuals as well as developers to look into these plans,” said Schuth. “I think that even if you don’t use the plans, it gives you a good sense of how houses in South Bend are designed, how they can be laid out, and how they can be done today with modern materials and methods. This is a really resource for everybody considering a home build in South Bend.”

These house designs prioritize simplicity which means they are cost-effective and functional but are built to stand the test of time.