Small developers increase affordable housing options in South Bend, transforming city's neighborhoods

NOW: Small developers increase affordable housing options in South Bend, transforming city’s neighborhoods

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- We’re full swing into construction season, but some estimates say new home construction in the U.S. is down more than 20% compared to a year ago.

Now, nearly a year into a new program in South Bend, small developers say it’s helping them counter that trend locally.

 “It is a wonderful experience to be a part of the transformation of our community,” says Michael Patton, Board Member of Cross Community.

Transforming South Bend’s neighborhoods one home at a time; that's been Michael and Tina Patton’s mission for years by building lower cost homes in South Bend.

However, with inflation, tight labor markets, and supply chain issues, those costs have gone up.  

“Material costs have skyrocketed over the last five years, labor has been expensive for a while now, but it continues to remain expensive,” explains the Director of Planning for the city of South Bend, Tim Corcoran.

Last year, the city boosted its efforts in providing affordable housing despite inflation raising the cost of construction through the New Neighborhood Homes Initiative, aiming to fill the city’s vacant lots with diverse, infill housing. 

The city now provides a catalogue of architecture plans that are free of charge for developers, pre-approved for building and site development.  

“The city has a number of vacant lots and opportunities for development,” says Liz Maradik, Director of Neighborhood Health and Housing for the city.

With the initiative, you’ll see less vacant lots in the city’s neighborhoods, instead you’ll see new, affordable homes being built.

“Small-scale developers in our community have been working with us to identify housing product that they think can be built affordably,” Corcoran says.

The Patton's nonprofit, Cross Community, is working to transform the near northwest neighborhood of South Bend. Their current project is a Harrison Avenue home designed with a pre-approved plan, which can potentially save tens of thousands of dollars.

The homes initiative also includes reimbursements worth up to $20,000 for new sewer connections.

Cross Community sells homes at the appraised value regardless of construction costs exceeds that.

The New Neighborhood Homes Initiative helps developers like the Patton's shrink, or erase the appraisal gap.

“The goals of the pre-approved plans, for one thing, is to help chip away at the costs associated with building, but also providing contextual and neighborhood like appropriate building types that fit within our neighborhoods,” Maradik explains.

The program is expected to lead to more diverse housing units, increasing affordable housing options across the city. 

“Going more towards the duplexes or the quads rather than the single-family homes just to really continue to keep the homes affordable," predicts Tina Patton, President of Cross Community.

They’re turning higher costs into high hopes.

“Our hope is to build 20 homes over the next four years to help transform the neighborhood,” says Michael Patton.

The city also provides lead removal and sewer sidewalk programs to support existing properties.

Cross Community provides classes for potential home buyers, so they have the tools necessary to prepare them for home ownership. To register or get more details, visit 

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