How FHLBank Indianapolis is helping create affordable housing in Fort Wayne

This story is made possible by support from FHLBank Indianapolis.
Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis (FHLBank) is one of 11 regional banks that make up the Federal Home Loan Bank System. All FHL Banks are government-sponsored enterprises to ensure access to low-cost funding for member financial institutions. FHLBank Indianapolis is owned by approximately 400 Indiana and Michigan financial institution members.

The institutions FHLBank serves are wide-ranging—from banks and credit unions to insurance companies and community development financial institutions.

As a community-focused bank, FHLBank supports housing finance, asset-liability management, and community lending. They also help communities and families through grants and low-cost loans via their member institutions that help support affordable housing and other economic development initiatives.


Fort Wayne is often touted as an affordable place to live, claiming a spot in the top five most affordable places to live in 2023, according to a report from U.S. News. And more recently Fort Wayne made national news as one of the “Best Places for Gen Z to Buy a Home” with other midwest cities, like Detroit, when The New York Times reported that 14 percent of Gen Z-ers (people born between 1997 and 2021) in Fort Wayne own their own homes.

On a national scale, Fort Wayne’s cost of living falls below the national average and on paper, when compared to other cities, Fort Wayne is easily marked as an affordable place to live.

George Guy, CEO of the Fort Wayne Housing Authority and chair of FHLBank of Indianapolis’ Affordable Housing Advisory CouncilBut what’s on paper might not be the whole picture. George Guy, CEO of the Fort Wayne Housing Authority and chair of FHLBank of Indianapolis’ Affordable Housing Advisory Council says there are disparities in the information we see about housing affordability.

“The housing is good,” he says. “The wages are low, so that creates a problem. You have a growing city that is affordable to live in but as it grows expenses grow.”

Guy explains that while the growth of Fort Wayne is good, that growth creates demand and drives up the price of housing, but it doesn’t necessarily drive up wages.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income for Fort Wayne in 2022 was $58,233, while the national median household income sits at $74,580. The difference in median becomes even larger for some zip codes in Allen County. Guy says data concerning income shows that income levels are segregated throughout Fort Wayne. For example, in the 46814 zip code, the average household income is $131,339, while the average household income for the 46803 area is $30,638.

Those segregated income levels are reflected in the affordability of housing throughout the city, which means some sections of the city could be considered “more affordable” than others.

“We are in a challenging situation right now—there's a shortage of affordable housing overall because wages are low, but there's also a lack of subsidized housing for those who need it,” he says, going on to explain that the Fort Wayne Housing Authority has a waiting list for access to its housing programs.

To help address the need for affordable housing not just in Fort Wayne, but across the region, FHLBank Indianapolis offers grants each year for member financial institutions that partner with local not-for-profit housing providers, economic development partners, and housing developers to create affordable housing developments.

Since 1993, FHLBank Indianapolis has funded over 20 projects within Fort Wayne. Projects such as Charis House, The Courtyard, Bottle Works Loft, and River’s Edge have all received funding from FHLBank.

FHLBank Indianapolis' investments in Fort Wayne through the AHP.While those projects can be based anywhere in the region, projects based in Fort Wayne are often throwing their hat in the ring for Affordable Housing Program (AHP) funding to bring more affordable housing to the city.

Mike Recker, who is the AHP portfolio manager at FHLBank Indianapolis, describes the program as gap funding for these developments.

“When developers are putting their funding stack together, wherever that gap between the sources and uses lies, that's where the AHP comes into play,” he explains.

Mike Recker, AHP Portfolio Manager, FHLBank IndianapolisThe funding program, which is only available to those who are using one of FHLBank Indianapolis’ member financial institutions, uses a single-round, competitive scoring program, which means applications are all due at the same time mid-year and are all awarded at the same time. After the applications are submitted, Recker and the team at FHLBank Indianapolis review and score them. The Federal Housing Finance Agency mandates the criteria for the scoring system. There are a variety of variables that can help applicants earn more points, and Recker explains that because the program is so competitive, even a few tenths of a point could make the difference between getting funded or not.

“If you have a nonprofit sponsor, if you're utilizing donated property, if you're doing a community stability initiative such as infill housing or rehabilitating existing affordable housing, Main Street revitalization, if your member financial institution is helping with the funding stack in the project through a construction loan or perm loan or donation—there's points available there,” he says. “It's a broad spectrum of points.”
Outside of the scoring system, Recker says certain eligibility threshold criteria must be met to be considered for funding.

“Is there market support for your development?” he provides as an example. “Not only the number of units but the income levels that you're proposing to serve. We need to see a market study. We need to see that the sponsor has both the financial and staffing capacity to take on such a project.”

After reviewing and scoring the applications, they start by awarding money to the top-scoring applicant and continue to award until all the money has run out. Because the funding provided by the AHP program is flexible, Recker says they see a variety of projects.

Applicants could receive a maximum of $600,000 in 2023. This year, due to increased funding allocations by FHLBank Indianapolis, applicants are eligible to receive grants of up to $1 million each. The grant can be used for a variety of funding needs, but the project must be acquiring, developing, or rehabilitating single- and multi-family properties for households that are earning at or below 80 percent of the area median income (AMI). Any projects that are focused on homeownership units must be reserved for households at or below 80 percent AMI, while rental units must reserve 20 percent of their units for households at or below 50 percent AMI.

Isabelle Gardens, which was awarded a grant in 2022, is under construction.
In 2022 and 2023, Keller Development Inc. was awarded AHP funding from the FHLBank Indianapolis. Dawn Gallaway is president and a third-generation owner of Keller, which has been around since 1957. Keller has developed, managed, and/or consulted on a multitude of AHP developments throughout Indiana, including five where it served as project sponsor. Additionally, Gallaway says as an experienced applicant for these development grants, they’ve helped other organizations construct their applications.

As a developer, they are responsible for finding locations, designing the project, and applying for funding. Keller also serves as their own general contractor and property manager.

Their most recent developments are Isabelle Gardens, from the 2022 grant cycle, and Thunder Pointe, from the 2023 grant cycle. Thunder Pointe is a co-development with Brightpoint and sponsored by Old National Bank. The development, which recently broke ground and is expected to begin leasing in 2025, consists of 64 two- or three-bedroom units. Isabelle Gardens is a two-part development, also sponsored by Old National Bank, that features both apartments and duplexes.

Construction usually takes less than 15 months, and Gallaway says by the time construction is complete, there is usually a waiting list for units.

The future site of Thunder Pointe, which is being developed by Keller and was the recipient of AHP funding in 2023.“Isabelle Gardens has 66 units,” she says. “We put up a construction sign and it has a phone number on it, you can call and get your name on the list. I just looked at it the other day, and it has over 145 people on that list, so it doesn't take long.”
Gallaway says the AHP grant is a vital part of the puzzle that is creating and funding affordable housing.

“It is just huge,” she says. “I know it sounds like a small part of the total project, but when you've got a $500,000 grant that can just be used for capital to build that project and not have to pay that back—that’s a big deal.”

She explains that this funding is important because it allows developers like Keller and organizations like Brightpoint and CASS Housing to continue to fill the need for affordable housing throughout the state.

“It's just something that we plan to do long term because we understand how important it is in a lot of different communities throughout the state,” Gallaway says. “We have learned that this type of housing not only fills a need, but it also keeps families able to live safely within their community, and it’s something that they can afford based on their own income.”

Not only does the creation of affordable housing matter, but Gallaway emphasizes that these housing units are built to help people. She explains that through the AHP funding from FHLBank Indianapolis and tax credits from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, individuals who meet the income requirements to move in can remain in affordable housing even if their income increases.

“An individual or a family’s wages can go up and they can still remain living there until they're ready to move on to the next chapter,” Gallaway says. “I think that's kind of cool because, you know, if you're just starting out and not making a lot of money, you want to find a nice place to live. If you find that but then get promoted at work, you can still stay in the unit until you get to a point where you’ve got money saved up and you’re financially stable.”

As chair of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis’ Affordable Housing Advisory Council and CEO of the Fort Wayne Housing Authority, George Guy says they’re in the business of trying to take care of the inequities seen in housing. The advisory council helps FHLBank Indianapolis get a better understanding of the state of housing within the communities they serve.

Korbyn Creek in Greenfield, Indiana“Sometimes we’re looking at this thing from 10,000 feet away, but the more you dive in and bring in people, including experts and local leaders, that will help you get better at what you're doing, the more equipped you are to obtain and direct the resources where they’re most needed,” he says of FHLBank’s advisory council.

Recker says they can see the need for affordable housing and know that it’s greater than what they can provide.

“It's oversubscribed,” Recker says. “For example, in our round this year, we were able to initially award 32 projects and we had over 70 applications come in. That's pretty consistent with what we see every year. Even when we get a higher allocation for a round like we did in 2023, it's still not been enough to address the need.” Last year, $15.4 million in funding was available for the AHP grants. For the 2024 grant cycle, the total funding allocation has increased to upwards of $28.5 million. Recker says he hopes the increased total funding allocation and increased individual award maximums will go a long way toward addressing this gap.

This story is made possible by support from FHLBank Indianapolis.
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Read more articles by Brittany Smith.

Brittany Smith is Input Fort Wayne's Managing Editor. Previously she served as Assistant Editor and participated in the College Input Program. She also volunteers for Northeast Indiana Public Radio.