DEVAN FILCHAK | The Journal Gazette

Habitat for Humanity is building two houses in the city’s southeast quadrant through a partnership with the city and Fort Wayne United’s TenPoint Coalition.

Officials announced the partnership Monday at the site of Habitat for Humanity’s latest build at 802 Drexel Ave. Another Habitat home has been started nearby at 722 Drexel, with both houses facing Weisser Park.

A $160,000 grant from the city’s Office of Housing and Neighborhood Services will fund the two 1,100-square-foot houses.

Andrew Gritzmaker, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Fort Wayne, said he is happy for Habitat for Humanity to partner with Pastor Lewis King, TenPoint Coalition and the city for development in the Oxford neighborhood.

“Even as we began to prepare the soil to build these two homes, Lewis and his team were going door to door,” Gritzmaker said, “to talk to the neighbors to make sure this wasn’t a project happening to them, but a project happening with them.”

King, the coalition’s coordinator, said it was rewarding to see the partnership’s work since 2018 come to fruition.

“When we plant seeds through our walking,” he said, “we are able to see the fruits of our labor when we see the homes coming up, when the families occupy the homes.”

The houses will be ready for families to move in by February.

Families for the homes will be selected in the next three to six months.

The three-bedroom properties will include one bathroom, a crawlspace and a shed. The homes were designed by MSKTD and Associates.

Nancy Townsend, the city’s community development director, said the home advancement partnership program is designed to help fulfill the city’s need for housing.

“Owner-occupied housing is the strength and stability that strengthens neighborhoods, partnerships and entire cities,” she said.

Housing stock is essential to economic development, Mayor Tom Henry said.

“Unquestionably, if you don’t have good housing stock, if you don’t have places that people can call home, you’re not going to get people to move to your city,” he said. “It’s that simple.”

King hopes to see more new houses out of the partnership, and Gritzmaker said he sees many opportunities in the Oxford neighborhood. 

The partnership with the coalition and the city, Gritzmaker said, connects directly with Habitat’s mission: to help people build wealth through the equity-building process.

“None of this work,” he said, “would be possible without their commitment to southeast Fort Wayne.”