HOUSING renovation is a key component of the Bridge of Grace neighborhood revitalization strategy.
By mitigating blighted homes, properties, and vacant lots, we have worked to enhance the quality of life for the Mount Vernon Park neighborhood residents. To further support Mount Vernon Park, Pettit-Rudisill neighborhoods, and the southeast Fort Wayne community as a whole, we want to increase access to affordable housing and economic stability.
Bridge of Grace serves around 1,500 residents (550 households) in Mount Vernon Park. Neighborhood demographics suggest between 80% and 90% of the residents live in households with an income level near or below the low-income threshold. Our community is comprised of 45% African American, 24% Hispanic, 22% Asian, and 9% White. Over 40% of the residents are under the age of 25 and 22% are over the age of 50.
According to US Census data, approximately 60% of residential properties in Mount Vernon Park are rentals and 10% are unoccupied. These statistics indicate relatively low levels of housing stability and affordability. The risk of displacement is on the rise for the legacy residents of our neighborhood. With health, education, and earning potential being threatened, the risk of involuntary displacement must be decreased. We believe an investment in housing infrastructure is an investment in our community’s long-term sustainability and future.
Like families and individuals in any community, Mount Vernon Park and Pettit-Rudisill residents desire what is best for their households, children, and the community at large: safety, a strong education system, unity amongst community residents. However, living in an underserved community with blighted properties and demographics like those listed can take a toll on the spiritual and psychological well-being of an individual and an entire community. Vacant, unkempt properties and infrastructure have a negative effect on the community and its residents. Studies have shown that urban decay and a perceived lack of safety can contribute to increased levels of stress, lack of physical activity, and difficulty focusing in school.
Over the past six years, Bridge of Grace has renovated 17 deteriorating homes, tended to 10 overgrown lots, and established three new community parks. We have collaborated with organizations and recruited many volunteers to accomplish these restoration projects. Our aim in improving living conditions in Mount Vernon Park and the Pettit-Rudisill area is to create vibrant neighborhoods sustained by engaged residents. As neighborhood pride grows, we are seeing the impact of our holistic approach. From 2013-2020, FBI stats show the crime rate in Mount Vernon Park dropped by nearly 63%.
In the interest of cultivating thriving, sustainable neighborhoods in southeast Fort Wayne, Bridge of Grace seeks to be distinct from other renovation and housing development businesses through our mission-based, evidence-based, and financially sustainable model. We will provide services and implement tactics that take into consideration the existing cultural and financial conditions of our community’s residents and equip them to be stakeholders in the community’s success. We want to build upon the assets and the potential embedded within our community and its residents.
We consider housing to be a tool that can increase access to wealth and home equity for low-income residents in southeast Fort Wayne. As we work to lower the rental rate and increase the home ownership rate, we are developing intentional relationships with area landlords. With the support of private funding, we desire to purchase homes in our target neighborhoods with the goal of creating permanently affordable and community-owned housing stock.
To support residents, we will provide financial coaching to increase bankability and access to credit. Increased stability for families in our community secures the retention of the neighbors we serve.
This home, located on Fairfax in Mount Vernon Park, was renovated by Bridge of Grace in 2016. It is one of many renovations highlighting Bridge of Grace's commitment to the revitalization of the Mount Vernon Park and Pettit-Rudisill neighborhoods.