Family says crime made them move

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The Renaissance Pointe neighborhood was originally designed as a project to help revitalize part of Fort Wayne’s inner city, but one family says the plan isn’t working.

The Barnett family was one of the first families to move into the remodeled homes in the Hanna-Creighton neighborhood five years ago. Jeff Barnett and his wife and five children moved into their home at 2342 Smith Street in 2009 because he said he wanted to be a part of the changing neighborhood.

Barnett said the original plan was a 10-year build. The city received a grant seven years ago to take every vacant lot in the neighborhood and build owner-occupied homes on them. Barnett said he got on board with the project because he was expecting to be one of hundreds of new homeowners in the area. However, after the housing crisis in 2008, the newly built 66 homes around him are now income-based rental properties. Barnett said another new homeowner hasn’t moved in since his family’s been there, and even if his economic peers wanted to move into the neighborhood, they wouldn’t be able to because of the income limits. Now, he’s concerned about the appraisal value of his 2,400-square-foot home and the possibility of selling it.

Barnett also said his family has dealt with a lot more violent crime and vandalism, especially since the police department headquarters moved from the area in 2011. In February of 2013, there was a homicide just a block away from the family’s home. Barnett said their cars has been broken into four times, there have been home break-in attempts, they hear gun shots regularly, and his daughter was hit by a car in a hit-and-run accident while walking home from school. The crime is part of the reason the family decided to move out to the southwest side of the city.

“My kids needed to feel safe, and if we keep waiting at the pace Renaissance Pointe is going, they’re all going to be grown and moved out of the house,” Barnett said.

Fort Wayne city officials said there are a lot of positive projects going on in the neighborhood such as the renovated Eden Green Apartments, the Renaissance Pointe YMCA, and some of the plans suggested by the Urban League’s “Building Bridges to a Better Community.” Mayor Tom Henry said in the larger picture, one family moving out of the neighborhood is a small percentage.

“People move all the time, and if you talk with the residents who still live here, they’re very happy,” Mayor Henry said.

Barnett acknowledged that not all of his neighbors feel the same way he does. However, he said that he doesn’t regret the five years his family spent in the neighborhood because it made them better people.

“Most of them have lived here so long that they’re not looking back five years ago, they’re looking back 25 years ago, and they do see improvements…substantial improvements,” he said.

The neighborhood association president said he didn’t want to comment on the move but said he’s sorry it didn’t work out for the Barnetts in his neighborhood.


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