By Mark Ambrogi
In her role as Indiana Lieutenant Governor, Sue Ellspermann is heavily involved in the housing arena.
So Elspermann, who oversees the Indiana Housing Community and Development Authority, was a natural fit for a keynote speaker for Hamilton County Area Neighborhood Development annual breakfast meeting on May 13 at Oak Hill Mansion in Carmel.
“Studies show affordable housing opportunities can provide that provide that path out of poverty, particularly when they are in mixed income neighborhoods,” Ellspermann said. “That’s such an important challenge that we want addressed. Although organizations like HAND are heavily focused on affordable housing and other related housing issues, it’s really important to keep housing in a bigger overall context. We want to think how we do broader long-range planning for our communities. What do we want our community to be when it grows up or as it grows up.
“In newer communities like here, that might be only looking out a few years because you are changing so much every year. Now in places like my hometown of Ferdinand, which is 175 years old this year, we look out 10 to 20 years to think where we want to be. In all of that, it’s developing new programming that goes behind just traditional grants.”
Ellspermann said the new Hometown Collaboration Initiative brings community leaders together in a different way to talk about the future of their community. Ellspermann said there might be a lot of young leaders in this audience, but cultivating young leaders in many counties is extremely important. She said she is encouraged by the number of communities that have wanted to be a part of that initiative, which was recently started.
“I hope as you do community vision activities here in your communities that you will bring those young people forward and we are hearing their voice at the table because really we’re designing these communities for them,” Ellspermann said. “They are the future.”
Ellspermann said the IHCDA initiative “My Community, My Vision,” which last launched in August with Ball State’s Urban Planning Group.
“It allowed high schools students, DECA and FFA and DECA members, to propose some visioning and be involved with it in their own community,” Ellspermann said.
A Ball State graduate student served as the students’ partner as they students present their own plan for their community.
“What an honor it was to hear those students talk with great care about the communities they live in,” Ellspermann said. “The good ideas they brought forth weren’t ones that necessarily roll off the tip of the tongue for those of us who have been around a long time.”
HAND recognized Aaron Head, Casey Cawthorn and Dan Domsic for their work and planning for Keep Fishers Beautiful.
“They sought seed fundings from HAND’s Neighborhoods Now program, which helped fund two highly successful neighborhood work blitz days,” said Sarah Hill, HAND’s board vice president. “Their plan is to be self-sufficient by 2016. HAND is proud to play a small role with the group.”
Beverly Fredrick and Margaret Shreve, from Spicewood Gardens in Sheridan, were honored as HAND’s Volunteers of the Year.