Skip to main content

Page last updated on July 13, 2022 at 2:21 pm

Hello and thank you for inviting me today. Thank you Kim Hill for extending the invitation. It is always good to build on the relationship we already have, which includes a partnership between the Monroe County Apartment Association and City of Bloomington Housing and Neighborhood Development. (and John Zody and colleagues, DG)  I’m very glad to be here with you all, to connect and share updates and ideas. Your goals are to protect, educate and improve the rental industry in Monroe County. A mayor is responsible for overseeing the daily operations, setting visions, and making decisions in the largest city, and county seat, of Monroe County. These tasks support setting many goals, and housing for all our residents is paramount among them.   


Bloomington generally is an expensive place to live - for both homeowners and renters. (top handful in state) Many residents face housing insecurity and disproportionate financial burdens. Employers continue to note that the lack of attainable housing affects their workforce. According to data from the Indiana Association of Realtors (provided by the Bloomington Board of Realtors), the median sale price of a home in Monroe County increased 15% between 2020 and 2021. As of September 2021, the median sale price was $265,000. (Zillow 16% increase, typical home price 303K; 5 years ago $193K) Housing inventory is also an issue. A healthy inventory generally a six months supply. As of September 2021, the local supply was 2.3 months. 

We learned from the 2020 Housing Study ( by the City of Bloomington that in our city, 60% of renters and 30% of homeowners spend more than 30% of their income on housing. That is the definition of being “cost-burdened” by housing costs, leaving much less for other needs, let alone wants. In other words, the impact ripples beyond the individual and across the whole community. 


We hear from residents about their needs, access to services, interests, and other community concerns. Homeowners often have more organized voices. This is not surprising and given the investments they make into their property and their neighborhoods, those voices are warranted and appreciated. Renters are oftentimes underrepresented in conversations about housing, neighborhoods, and public life, but their voices are also important. That makes your organization, which can organize and represent the interests of renters as well as apartment industry, a key voice in our community. 

So no surprise, that our community is in a time of recovery, transition, and growth as we recover forward from the pandemic and attendant economic downturn. My administration launched Recover Forward in 2020, a multi-year $15 million initiative to recover yes, but also thrive with forward vision and momentum, including moving toward greater racial, economic, and climate justice as we do so. We are building a brighter Bloomington that is more consistent with our values and a critical value is affordable housing. 

We’ve used rainy day funds and reversions locally and also key has been the Biden and Harris administration’s American Rescue Plan that brought direct relief to American people and businesses as well as supported local governments, ours included. We have also had the support of our City Council. Our government bodies working together have strengthened our City well. 

Offering affordable housing is a very high priority of the City, and Recover Forward. It was a big issue in both my campaigns in 2015 and 19, and people still care deeply about it. the Bloomington Housing Authority serves the housing needs of over 2,000 Bloomington residents through the housing it owns and operates and the housing choice voucher program. (RAD) And Since 2016 Bloomington has developed, added, or preserved 1,121 affordable housing units. (put in context, previous six years, 48 units).


One of the inaugural affordable housing rental projects was the family-oriented B-Line Heights, a 34-unit building right downtown and along the 3-mile B-Line trail, that serves families at or below the median income. Additional projects have followed each year and we, or developers, have also partnered with other agencies to meet needs and confront challenges with supportive structure built into living situations. In 2020 the first phase of Switchyard Apartments on Rogers Street along the 65-acre Switchyard Park’s west side opened. All eight apartments are designated for low-income households, with two of the units reserved for clients of LifeDesigns, a local nonprofit serving people with disabilities. 


In 2021 Kinser Flats, a 50-apartment complex with onsite recovery support for people that struggle with addiction and mental health, opened to residents. These are not transitional housing projects, but places that tenants can call home. Just this month we broke ground on the Retreat at the Switchyard, an apartment building along Switchyard Park’s east side that will provide a mix of supportive and affordable housing as well as market-rate units. At least 48 units will be dedicated to residents earning 30 to 80 percent of Area Median Income, and ten of those will be reserved for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, supported by Stone Belt, a local nonprofit organization. These are just a few examples of the homes we have created in recent years.


As part of the City’s Recover Forward initiative, we’ve also invested in affordable homeownership through down payment assistance and shared appreciation programs. We’ve invested in the BHA’s new Summit Hill Development. And we’ve designated a Landlord Risk Mitigation Fund. 


In late 2021, the City committed $1.2 million to the United Way and Community Foundation’s Housing Security initiative. And we have dedicated an additional $1.5 million in 2022 for this important work.


I’d like to thank our City Council for their approval of these allocations, and extend our appreciation to President Biden and Congress and the American Rescue Plan Act making these investments possible.


Affordable housing is only one piece of quality of life. In addition to these housing investments, the City is committed to addressing the climate emergency, bridging the digital divide, delivering basic services exceptionally well, investing in ways to cultivate equity and inclusion, and supporting a sustainable economy, with new jobs at fair, livable wages. All of this connects to quality of life, and housing too.


I’ll share just a few recent examples: 

  • The City has partnered with Meridiam to build a citywide open-access-model fiber network, embodying net neutrality, with a strong emphasis on digital equity. Meridiam will invest $50 million to bring high-speed internet access to virtually every neighborhood and resident in the City. The digital equity initiative will provide income-qualifying households with 250 Megabits per second symmetrical internet service for $30 per month. The City and Meridiam will together provide the “drop” connection to qualifying households at no cost, which combined with the Biden Administration’s new $30 Affordable Connectivity Program means eligible low-income residents can receive high bandwidth fiber-based internet service at zero net cost.
  • In April 2022, Catalent Pharma Solutions signed an agreement to bring a $350 million expansion to Bloomington, including at least 1,000 new high-quality jobs paying an average of $32 per hour. The largest single investment in expanding technology, equipment, and new high-wage jobs in our history. (cf $550MM Regional Acad Health Ctr)
  • Bloomington Fire Department and Bloomington Police Department are leaders in delivering public safety to our community. Bloomington is the only city in the state of Indiana with a police department accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies and a fire department with a top Insurance Service Office (ISO) Score for Fire Protection of 1/1X. Just last month we announced new incentives to retain and attract the best officers. 
  • In addition to housing investments, the Recover Forward initiative has committed much of that $15 million to critical investments in Bloomington’s job creation and training, climate action, city infrastructure, social services, digital equity, and local arts, local food, and public safety.
  • The City is leading the redevelopment of the new Hopewell neighborhood, formerly the IU Health Bloomington Hospital site. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity to create a neighborhood from the ground up in the heart of the city. 100s of housing units. And affordable housing is an important component.
  • Utilities (CBU) has launched an infrastructure project to identify all active lead (Pb) water service lines in its distribution system. By doing so CBU will leverage state and federal funding resources, like the recently passed federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, to accelerate a complete city-wide lead service line replacement. Our water meets or exceeds all local, state, and federal standards and this project will ensure safe water for generations.
  • Finally, ED-LIT is critical: keeps our investments going beyond the one-time recovery: public safety; public transit; climate; economic opportunity; and basic services of city government.


We identified $3.5BB in direct investments over past 5 years. Extraordinary level. We saw Assessed Value up nearly $2BB in county in past year. (now nearly $15BB) We have joined top dozen counties in state for average weekly wage – new. $1k per week wages.


A lot of numbers and facts. Maybe most meaningful to me are the stories of people who choose Bloomington. Staying here after school. Or moving here. Family at Farmers Market says for trails. Visitor who marvels at Switchyard Park. Bloomington Remote who moved here from Mexico. Former incarcerated persons who are getting tech jobs through the Mill. Or formerly unhoused people getting jobs through Parks and Public Works, into workforce. 


We are a diverse community of widely varying incomes, interests, and needs. Building housing that is accessible and affordable and addresses needs is good for individual residents and our community as a whole. I believe we will continue to prioritize affordable and accessible housing that allows all our residents to have places they can call home. I’m very excited about how Bloomington is doing, and look forward to working with you to keep it thriving.