ELKHART — Lacasa Inc. is preparing for its newest building project, the Modular Workforce Housing Pilot Program, to address a particular kind of housing shortage.
An event to celebrate the kick-off was held Thursday morning at one of the sites the organization will use, 120 W. Indiana Ave., the location of a recently demolished blighted home.
“The program is really trying to look for solutions for the workforce housing shortage in the state of Indiana but also locally in Elkhart,” Lacasa Inc. President/CEO Chris Kinglsey said.
Single-family modular housing will be built at that location, as well as two other locations in the same neighborhood.
“We chose this location because of the closeness of the three lots to make more of an impact, and it’s also a neighborhood we already have a major investment in, the Roosevelt Center,” said Brad Hunsberger, Lacasa’s vice president of real estate development.
Dwight Fish, Elkhart City councilman for District 4, where the homes will reside, has been vocal in the past about the need for investments in his district.
“This is a very good start,” Fish said. “This also proves that the city is looking for new opportunities for people to establish families here and to increase that quality of life and living.”
Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority recently awarded Lacasa a $500,000 grant to allow for the Modular Workforce Housing Program.
Each home will consist of three bedrooms, two bathrooms, with approximately 1,400 square feet of living space, and will include high-efficiency central heating and cooling.
“It’s very high-quality housing,” Kingsley said. “Modular housing provides communities an affordable and quality housing solution comparable to site-built homes.”
Heckman Homes of Nappanee will partner with the organization to build the homes. Next Modular of Goshen will oversee onsite construction. Kern and Kern Realty will oversee the sale of the homes for Lacasa.
The homes will be offered to those at 140 percent or below the area’s median income. For a family of four, that annual income maximum is around $50,000.
“This will be the first new single-family construction in this neighborhood in a long time,” Kingsley said. “Homeownership changes families and neighborhoods. It is a generational wealth-building tool. The hope here is that not only is this a great program for three families who get to live in great houses, but that it also revitalizes the neighborhood as well.”
Jacob Sipe, Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority’s executive director, discussed during the announcement the difficulty across the state that has resulted from the low unemployment rate and finding housing to retain workers.
“As we thought about this, we wanted to think about the neighborhoods that, at some point, had very challenging times with vacant and abandoned homes,” Sipe said. “This program allows us to serve as a conduit between not-for-profits, local units of government and modular housing manufacturers and dealers.”
The $500,000 grant will help the program to be structured as a revolving fund, allowing proceeds from the sale of each of the first three houses to be reinvested in future workforce housing for homeownership through Lacasa.
“This program will allow us to welcome new residents who can become full-time residents in the city of Elkhart,” Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese said.
Completion of the first three homes is expected by fall 2020.