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By Mike Sullivan

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– A local nonprofit is giving Indianapolis teachers a new place to call home. The housing development is geared toward educators, and the first open house came on Saturday.

The 22 houses are being designed on Rural Street by the nonprofit Near East Area Renewal (NEAR). The homes are in the St. Clair neighborhood. The idea is to create an “Educators’ Village” to give affordable living to one of the most underpaid professions in the country.

“Most starting first, second, third year IPS teachers qualify to purchase these homes,” NEAR Executive Director John Franklin Hay said.

The homes are being renovated from formerly vacant or abandoned houses. The rehab jobs range from $136,000-$193,000, and owners must fall within particular salary ranges.

Through relationships with the city, and the Indianapolis neighborhood housing partnership (INHP), NEAR was able to use millions of dollars in new market tax credits, and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) dollars to open the door for teachers.

“Everyone knows that teachers are paid more in the suburbs than out of county, but these are the kids and these are the communities that really need it most,” Hay said.

“Air conditioning, printer paper, beautiful rooms, state of the art, no– everyone wants to live and work out in the suburbs,” said Tanya Bleiler, a Chicago school nurse moving to Indy.

Hay said IPS loses 400 teachers a year, as more lucrative jobs are available in the suburbs.

“Most IPS teachers start at $40,000,” Hay said.

The first 15 homes are expected to be done in August with the final phase of construction beginning in September.