By Makenna Mays
INDIANAPOLIS – Peggy Gamlin, a senior resident of Riverside, chose to stay in her westside neighborhood even through tough times, but now that the area is being revitalized she doesn’t want to face the possibility of losing her home.
“I love my neighborhood,” Gamlin told the Interim Fiscal Study Committee Monday. “I came back to my neighborhood even though it was challenging. At the time, I was making good money, I could have gone anywhere, but I chose to come back to my neighborhood.”
A proposal developed by state Rep. Cherrish Pryor, D-Indianapolis, would help long-time residents of developing neighborhoods by establishing a balance between revitalization and gentrification. The Fiscal Policy committee convened to hear testimony on the proposal.
Rep. Pryor listening to testimomy on balancing neighborhood revitalization and gentrification.
Photo by Makenna Mays, TheStatehouseFile.com
The proposal developed during the 2017 Indiana General Assembly would clear the way for local governments to allow tax deductions for longtime homeowners whose property has an assessed value of less than $100,000. This would soften some of the burden of increased property taxes for some homeowners as neighborhoods are revitalized.
“I want to see our neighborhoods improved by getting rid of blighted homes or renovating them,” Pryor said in a statement. “I also want to protect those people who have lived in the same neighborhoods for many years and have kept their properties in good condition.”
Judy Sharp, president of the Assessors Association, suggested stratifying neighborhoods. Assessors would assign a separate designation for the renovated area so that lower income homeowners would not be so adversely affected by a property tax increase.
“Going from a working employee to where I am today, surviving on my social security, it scares me when I hear a home that is in Fountain Square that sold for $31,000 in 2010 and just jumped to $131,000,” said Gamlin.
Sharp is seeing cases where these homeowners are being put in a position of losing their homes.
“That lady that is raising her great grandchildren is sitting their across from me saying ‘I’m going to lose everything I have,’” said Sharp.
Concerns have even been raised about gentrification in the southside because the popular HGTV show “Good Bones” has purchased some houses in that neighborhood. These renovations could potentially raise home values and then property taxes, causing problems for people who have lived there for years.
“Many of the folks who stuck it out when the neighborhoods were bad worked to bring improvements and change,” Pryor said. “They deserve to enjoy the labor of their work to revitalize their neighborhoods.”
“I have to think about how do I keep my house up, how do I continue to stay in my house, how do I age in place,” said Gamlin.
Makenna Mays is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.