Building Bigger

Net-Zero Homes for the Englewood Community

The “Alley House” provides a model of net-zero energy affordable housing for urban Indianapolis.

Englewood Community Development Corp. (ECDC) has built eco-friendly, affordable housing in Englewood for 10+ years, most of which serves individuals in one/two-bedroom apartments. However, there is an acute lack of affordable housing for families within the available housing stock. Neighborhood homes are under threat from gentrification, skyrocketing property values, and absentee landlords which make it difficult for very low-income families to move out of poverty . In Englewood, there are 1,000+ students in three schools who will benefit from new affordable housing within walking distance of their school and other amenities. The “Alley House” provides a model for an energy-efficient, duplex serving low-income families. The house is also designed to be net-zero energy and will produce as much energy as it uses annually further reducing utility cost burdens on residents. “Alley House” also aims to activate the underutilized adjacent alley system as safe community and social space.

The “Alley House” will provide two units of affordable housing for families in the Englewood neighborhood but it will also be a model for what high-performance, net-zero energy housing can be for low-income families in Indianapolis. The design employs innovative, eco-friendly, and cost-effective strategies to improve resident health and well-being, reduce monthly expenses, enhance opportunities for community interaction, and promote transit-friendly development. The prominent Temple Street location will be an inviting, welcoming addition to the neighborhood that includes pocket porches, buddy benches, brick paving, native vegetation, and vegetable gardens. “Activation” of the alley will create an innovative social space and pathway to schools, community centers, and a grocery store within a one-mile radius as well as serve as a safe playspace for children. These value-added features require additional funding beyond what a standard affordable housing project can support.

A grant will support revitalization ECDC efforts aimed at diversity; equitable housing; and educational, economic, and leisure opportunities for residents. It continues a long-term partnership between ECDC and Ball State student designers that will inform future projects. The “Alley House” is part of a 40-unit project by ECDC to add new affordable housing to the neighborhood as part of the international Solar Decathlon Competition of the US Dept. of Energy. Ball State and ECDC will receive attention on an international scale and contributes to emerging Community Land Trust planning, which will ensure affordability for future residents.
The project will provide:
Alley corridor-based community building
affordable, duplex housing in a walkable community, a path toward home ownership for low-income residents, sense of long-term security about families’ futures, awareness of energy/cost-saving strategies, high-performance, net-positive duplex prototype for urban vacant lot infill housing

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