TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Terre Haute native AJ Patton knows what it’s like to live in less than ideal conditions.
Growing up, there were times when his family faced financial struggles that had an effect on their housing situation.
“At one point, we were living in a place that had energy issues,” Patton said. “We had a utility bill that got out of hand and we were on a pretty tight budget and so unfortunately, we did not have heat for a winter.”
Despite these challenges, Patton was raised in a home environment that encouraged success and he was able to attend Indiana State University and receive his degree.
After graduating from ISU, Patton decided to do his part to change the narrative for families in situations similar to his by founding 548 Capital LLC, named after the unit number of the apartment he grew up in in Terre Haute.
548 Capital works to bring sustainable and affordable housing options to people in the Chicago area, but Patton said he is also focused on helping bring more quality housing to his hometown.
“Workforce training is always important, but we need to be training for the future jobs, right?” Patton said. “So I think that’s 1A, and then two, I think we’ve got to make the transition with our housing; can it be more energy efficient, can it be better insulated, better windows, better roofing materials? Do we do rooftop solar, et cetera? I think those two things go hand in hand.”
Housing and workforce development also go hand in hand in the READI grant proposals submitted by the Wabash River Regional Development Authority.
“What we are finding is that we simply don’t have enough housing to be able to keep up with our current demand,” RDA President Greg Goode said. “But particularly if our goal is to increase the population of West Central Indiana, we’re going to have to work even harder with public and private sector leaders for those important investments in housing.”
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Ryan Keller, Executive Director of Thrive West Central, worked on the READI grant proposals as well. He referenced housing when discussing a recent evaluation by the Indiana Defense Network after Terre Haute applied to be the home of an F-35 training facility.
“We came runner-up in that project,” Keller explained. “The two areas that they really dinged us, one of them was housing.”
Keller said the evaluation listed 500-800 jobs for the facility and questioned whether there was housing options for those families.
One of the housing proposals included in the READI grant submission is a “Homes for the Future” Pilot Program, which could help to answer that question for future ventures. The program would be a $17.6 million investment, with a target of designing 80-100 homes.
“It’s going to be focused on that average price point of around $220,000 for homes, because that’s the sector that is the most valued or prized right, the most needed in our area.”
Keller said sustainability, such as some of the amenities Patton mentioned, is a no-brainer for today’s builders, no matter the price point.
“We’re going to see our region as a whole start to really embrace and take on that kind of long-term sustainable housing developments that you’ve seen in, you know, Carmel or Fishers or Westfield or Plainfield, your more urbanized areas.”
Patton said he is expecting good things to come for the community he grew up in and still roots for.
“I have family that still lives in Terre Haute, so I’m deeply invested in the success of Terre Haute and I think the future’s bright.”
Read through all of the proposals included in the READI grant application here. Announcements for the projects receiving funding may come as soon as December, according to the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.