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Renters say organization gives them needed break

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The Armory Apartments on Seventh and Franklin Streets, with 25 units, is among the 96 properties in the Housing Partnerships portfolio.

This complex, like others owned and managed by HPI, provides affordable housing to tenants who meet the agency’s income-eligibility guidelines.

Nancy Tekulve has lived in the former National Guard Armory for eight years and said the break she receives on rent is a big help to her.

“HPI has been great and they have helped a lot of people here find a place they could afford,” Tekulve said. “They maintain it really well. And if you have to live in an apartment, this is a really nice place.”

She pays $390 a month for a 460-square-foot deluxe apartment, which would be $516 without a subsidy. Similar apartments a few blocks to the east on Seventh Street run $530 a month.

Ilese Sabelhaus oversees the supported living program for the region at Stone Belt Arc, a nonprofit agency whose work includes finding housing for people with developmental disabilities. She said HPI fills a huge need because quality rental property is difficult to find in Bartholomew County.

“When we are searching for rental clients that want to move to Columbus from another area, we struggle to find something that’s affordable and accessible,” Sabelhaus said. “Most of our clients are unemployed or underemployed, and for some their income is only about $750 a month.”

Sabelhaus receives a list of rental properties in the county from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development but said she has not been able to place clients in any of those units. Many of the Stone Belt Arc clients live with one or two housemates, and Sabelhaus said the homes and apartments provided by HPI are a good fit for that type of living arrangement.

“HPI is a great landlord and is very flexible in making accommodations as our clients’ needs change and in keeping rent at an affordable rate,” Sabelhaus said. “Without HPI, many of our clients would have to be thinking about downsizing to a smaller home or an apartment or maybe not living in Columbus at all.”

Karin Sharp said HPI gave her more than a decent place to live 11 years ago. The organization changed her life.

Sharp was living in a small house on Keller Avenue and worked sporadically in mostly minimum-wage jobs.

“I was getting help from Love Chapel and I’d get things caught up, but I could never get ahead … and then I’d go under,” Sharp said.

Sharp wanted to attend nursing school but knew that wasn’t going to happen unless she could add some stability to her life.

She said HPI got her into an apartment that was larger than the home she had been living in at a modest rent, based on her income guidelines.

Sharp said because of that help, she was able to complete nursing school and has been working in the profession for six years.

“I wish there was some way for people to know just how much HPI has done for me,” Sharp said. “They wrote letters to help me get school funding, and they have been a really positive influence and always provided great moral support.”

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