Lending a Neighborly HAND
Writer / Kara Reibel Photographer / Brian Brosmer
HAND invests in neighborhoods, provides housing solutions and builds partnerships to improve lives and build community in Hamilton County.
Community leaders from across Hamilton County gathered for the Hamilton County Area Neighborhood Development (HAND) annual meeting. Special keynote speaker Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann addressed the progress and commitment of those gathered for the betterment of area neighborhoods, emphasizing that those communities that focus regionally have a higher rate of success. The lieutenant governor oversees the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority.
“We are a convening entity, not experts,” says Nate Lichti, executive director of HAND. “We are the facilitators bringing together the right people to improve our community.”
Lichti spoke of a recent project in downtown Noblesville in partnership with several other groups, including Meyer Najem, in rehabilitating the Roper Capstone building near the square in the Historic District.
“The Roper Capstone is the third building and the last of the unoccupied vacant buildings on our block,” says Lichti, resulting in the addition of six apartments. “This adds affordable housing at a convenient location.”
The Roper Capstone building is historically significant due to being the location of the first African American-owned business in Noblesville. The business was Roper Grocery Store, and HAND only felt it appropriate to honor the name.
Through programs like Neighborhoods NOW and Helping Hand, communities come together to strengthen as a whole. “It’s with these programs that smarter and better housing developments are possible,” says Ellspermann.
With the City of Fishers, the redevelopment is on a different scale. “Many times, we are looking at fixing a broken or neglected area,” says Lichti. ”With redevelopment in Hamilton County, it is more aspirational to improve lives and build a community in a growing, thriving place.”
Keep Fishers Beautiful came to be as a result of tighter code enforcement led by our Community Development Department. While ensuring properties throughout Fishers meet regulations, the City of Fishers sought out opportunities to support residents and assist them in addressing any code violations.
“We had the idea to do a ‘work day’ in one of our neighborhoods, performing beautification projects like landscaping and planting flowers,” says Aaron Head, Associate Planner of the Community Development Department with the City of Fishers. “HAND gave us the seed money to make it possible.”
The event is a community initiative that sparks pride within residents and collaboration between city officials to keep property values high in some of our oldest neighborhoods.
HAND was incredibly supportive of Keep Fishers Beautiful and has helped the initiative become self-sustaining as they look toward the future. As that partnership has evolved, the City of Fishers has been able to expand further partnership opportunities to include local Fishers businesses. The 2015 event was sponsored in part by Haven, a local company that targets homeowners along with many other participating community partners.
Working with older Fishers neighborhoods who may or may not have an HOA, the organized work day with Keep Fishers Beautiful brings in dumpsters and helps clear branches, cut down trees and gets the entire community involved in the clean up effort.
“We go door to door, connecting with the neighborhood at a grassroots level and facilitating a dialogue with the City that provides a meaningful connection,” says Head. “Events like this builds a stronger community.”
Lichti found a T-shirt in a thrift shop that reads, “Love Thy Neighborhood.” “It reminds me of exactly why all of us do what we do. We love our community, and it’s this love and the love of one another that provides the foundation for helping others get a leg up,” shares Lichti.
For more information on how you can get involved with HAND and Keep Fishers Beautiful, please visit handincorporated.org and fishers.in.us/KFB.