Blighted homes to become Near Eastside teachers village

Project aims to keep young teachers in Indy

INDIANAPOLIS -- As early as April, 20 vacant, boarded-up houses on the Near Eastside could be the home of Indianapolis’ first teachers village.

The project, the result of 18 months of discussions between IPS, Mayor Joe Hogsett’s office and Near East Area Renewal, is aimed at addressing the city’s teacher retention problem – particularly the challenges of keeping young teachers past their first contract renewal. 

“Typically what happens is the teacher will get a job with IPS or with one of the charter schools, they’ll rent a house out in the suburbs, and so then they’re commuting every day back and forth,” said John Franklin Hay, NEAR’s executive director. “At the end of their contract here, their life is rooted in another community rather than this community.”

NEAR hopes to change that. It breaks ground in November on the first 13 houses, located right across the street from NEAR’s office at the intersection of 10th and Rural streets. By April, Hay said he hopes to be finding first, second and third-year teachers to move into the homes.

Above: A rendering of the proposed streetscape of the finished teachers village. Below: Ongoing and long-term NEAR projects in the 10th and Rural area.

Hay says the homes – some will be available for rent, as well – will be available for teachers at IPS and charter schools in Indianapolis.

“So this idea is to help teachers have a good housing opportunity here, a good opportunity for home ownership, and to root them in this community early on,” Hay said. “So they’re near downtown Indianapolis with all its energy, they’re near parks and recreation, they’re in a housing situation that is equity positive and they have an opportunity for long-term investment.”

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NEAR has already secured funding for the first 13 homes, and is hoping the city of Indianapolis will be able to assist with the remaining seven.

While the teachers village is primarily intended to benefit the educators who will live in it, Hay said the neighborhood will see a boon as well.

“Our neighborhoods need long-term teachers. We value teachers because they bring a lot of civic engagement. They bring a lot of knowledge. They bring a diverse range of knowledge and interests in a community. And so we’re going to do everything we can to locate teachers here and to keep teachers here.”

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