INDIANAPOLIS — City leaders said this week that Indianapolis is in the midst of a “housing crisis,” which is why they’re investing nearly $6 million in people with ideas to fix it.

Mayor Joe Hogsett said Thursday that his office is working to increase the supply of quality affordable housing with the “Vacant to Vibrant” initiative. Award recipients said they plan to transform empty city-owned properties in Indianapolis neighborhoods that need them.

“It’s a big project for us just because of the importance,” Englewood Community Development Executive Director Joe Bowling said.

More than $1 million is going to the Englewood CDC, which plans to build six townhome units on vacant city lots and renovate four rentals for refugee families that just moved to the city in a partnership with Exodus Refugee.

“We’ve just seen a tremendous need for refugee families who’ve lost everything,” Bowling said.

Plus, Bowling said there is a need for accessible housing across the board.

“There’s more of a demand for affordable housing both in terms of affordable rental housing and affordable home ownership than we’ve ever seen in our 25-year history,” he said.

The city is dividing $5.86 million, sourced in part from American Rescue Plan Act funds, amongst 10 proposals to create new homes. That is something that Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development Director Rusty Carr said officials are optimistic about.

“That comes out to about $120,000 per property,” Carr said. “We feel really good about that.”

Carr said the city owns between 100-150 vacant properties and that this initiative will turn some of them into 49 livable, affordable spaces.

“The land has been transferred to our partners, the contracts are going through the system as we speak,” he said. “We expect construction to begin on a number of these projects this fall.”

Bowling also said that these will be the first units owned by the city’s new Community Land Trust. This, he said, can ensure they remain accessible for generations to come.

“That’s a big milestone in our city,” Bowling said. “Certainly any time we can serve refugee families is a big deal to us as well.”

Another proposal receiving funding is from the Martindale Brightwood CDC for eight new townhomes for households below 80% AMI.

The group received a second grant, in partnership with Brown Property Development, for two additional homeownership opportunities for households below 80% AMI in the Hillside neighborhood.