New developments build hope for 'posterity' in Southeast Fort Wayne

The term "posterity" signifies building and preparing for future generations.

When Pastor Cedric Walker chose Posterity Heights as the name of a development project he's leading in Southeast Fort Wayne, that's what he had in mind: A way to strengthen two generations of residents at once.

Posterity Heights is a multi-use, multi-phase development project intended to build up housing stock, community, and services in the underprivileged neighborhoods of Southeast Fort Wayne, particularly for college graduates and their children.

The first phase of the project is the Scholar's House, which will consist of 44 subsidized housing units for low-income parents who are pursuing an education fulltime. The project will take shape in two separate two-story buildings slated to open next month.

This phase of Posterity Heights will be a $130-million investment toward the grand vision of a vibrant Southeast community with childcare and development services, a full-service healthcare clinic, a fresh food market, a life development center, and family dining options.

Walker is the founder and senior pastor of Joshua's Temple Missionary Baptist Church on the southeast side and Founder/CEO of the community housing development organization Joshua's Hand Inc. He knows about the problems that have plagued Southeast Fort Wayne for some time because he came of age there.

Cedric Walker's personal life mission is to teach others to live so that their reward for living will be a life worth living.
“The No. 1 reason (we are doing this) is that quality housing in southeast Fort Wayne is limited,” he says. “(Housing) stock is only as new as the late 1960's or early 1970's. Even employed and financially qualified people who want to buy homes don't have anything to choose from, so they have to buy outside of the (Southeast) community.” 

But quality, affordable housing is just one of the challenges, he says. Lack of access to healthcare, transportation, and economic opportunity frame the story of Southeast Fort Wayne, too.

Brightpoint's 2016 Community Needs Assessment paints a dim picture of the city quadrant. According to the report, Wayne township (including the 46806 zip code), has some of the highest rates of poverty and crime in the City of Fort Wayne. 

Walker believes the lack of resources on the Southeast side of town directly influence people's attitudes and perceptions.

“When you don’t have all these pieces (in place), people move into survival mode," he says. "The moral structure breaks down, and then there’s not a lot of trust. Everybody is just trying to survive.”

These dire conditions perpetuate a vicious cycle and feedback loop of sorts. But Walker is not one to give up on his community and its people. He says the Southeast side has the potential to be economically and socially viable with the right investments–what he refers to as “gentrification from the inside.”

Enter Scholar's House. Each scholar living in this facility (with their families) will have access to a wealth of resources to help them succeed and then ultimately join or re-join the workforce with jobs that can support families. 

“If we do our jobs right, we could put (our first cohort of) 88 college graduates into the Fort Wayne economy with an average annual salary of $51,000,” he says.  

Areas of focus will be: the trades, IT, advanced manufacturing, healthcare, and finance because Walker says these skills are most in demand in northeast Indiana. 

And with the tangible potential for stable housing and jobs in Southeast Fort Wayne, there is growing hope.

In a video about Posterity Heights on the Joshua's Hand website, Walker says he's heard inspiring words of support from the youth on the Southeast side of town.

"I met a young man who shook my hand and said to me, 'I've heard of what you're working on with Posterity Heights. It's got a whole lot of us believing we can do something.'" he says. "That was powerful."

Donate to Posterity Heights

Joshua's Hand just kicked off a Captial Campaign for Posterity Heights. Walker welcomes donations from the community to support the cause.

Read more articles by Lauren Caggiano.

Lauren Caggiano is a Fort Wayne-based writer. A 2007 graduate of the University of Dayton, she returned to Northeast Indiana to pursue a career. In the past 12 years she has worked in journalism, public relations, marketing, and digital media. She currently writes for several local, regional, and national publications.