IndyStar investigation questions number of homes mayor says are ‘transformed’

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – In 2017, Mayor Joe Hogsett announced his goal of transforming 2,000 dilapidated homes in two years.

He has since said the City says they have surpassed that goal, transforming more than 2,500 homes. However, an investigation from our news gathering partners at the IndyStar found some of those homes have not seen much change.

For instance, a vacant home near Lucas Oil Stadium downtown was counted towards the total, however it's covered in graffiti with boarded up windows. According to the mayor's online dashboard, the home is listed as a "repair order brought into compliance."

"We wanted to take a look at the progress of that initiative, especially as the mayor in recent months has announced that he has surpassed that goal,” said James Briggs, a reporter with the Indy Star.

"We found in some cases there were successes, but in several others we found that the outcomes fell short of the promises,” added reporter Ryan Martin.

Some luxury apartments also counted towards the total. For example, The Vue apartment complex on Georgia Street was built in 2017 as a City subsidized project. The apartment counts for 242 of the total number of transformed homes.

"On one spectrum, you have luxury apartments the City is taking credit for as transformed housing. On the other end of the spectrum, you still have uninhabitable housing,” Briggs said.

Meanwhile, other residents across the city are waiting for vacant homes on their street to be demolished.

"Sooner the better,” said Pamela Wright, who's lived in her home on Boulevard Place for nine years.

Wright wakes up to an abandoned home across the street every morning. It's been crumbling away for more than a year since a fire destroyed it in March of 2018. She says she’s called the mayor’s action hotline, but has yet to receive a date for demolition.

“Kids play in it sometimes and that’s not safe, and also there's been someone over there stripping the siding," Wright said. "It just looks bad. It makes the whole block look bad.”

Wright says the neighborhood has gotten better over the years, and IndyStar reporters found many vacant homes had been demolished. However, those they spoke with were still concerned the overall numbers don’t quite add up.

"It’s important to note that a lot of the actions taken by this City aren’t necessarily bad actions," Martin said. "It’s not as if someone doesn't want code enforcement to happen in their neighborhood. The quarrel that a lot of those folks had with the Hogsett administration was the fact that they’re talking about fixing blighted homes when really in some cases, they objectively were not.”

CBS4 reached out to Mayor Hogsett’s office and they provided a statement that read.

“Since this initiative was launched, the City has affected change in neighborhoods all across Marion County — demolishing dilapidated homescreating affordable housing stockincreasing density along lines of mass transit, and rehabbing brownfields that had sat vacant for years. We are proud of these efforts, and projects such as these will continue to be a priority.

The analysis conducted by the IndyStar was made possible by the city’s work last year to make a variety of data on neighborhood revitalization available to the public for the first time. We encourage all residents to utilize the dashboard to explore the variety of interventions being utilized by city departments to improve Indianapolis neighborhoods.”

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