The Terre Haute Housing Authority announced last week it may close its only remaining low-income downtown housing unit. The move would relocate more than 100 people from the heart of downtown to the northeastern part of the city.
The Deming Hotel once welcomed visiting dignitaries, but for the past several decades it has served as low-income housing. In 2010 the Terre Haute Housing Authority took control of the property and decided the building was below ideal living conditions.
Now the Terre Haute Housing Authority is considering selling the property and relocating all 109 tenants to the former Warren School in Northeastern Terre Haute. The Housing Authority plans to spend $15 million renovating and adding to the former school, which has been abandoned for years.
Arts Illiana is a local arts council that resides in the Deming Hotel. The group’s Executive Director John Robeson says he doesn’t know what will happen if the city sells the building. “We’re in the heart of downtown in a historic building and so it’s great,” Robeson said. “It’s flexible, we’re able to have gallery space, we’re able to have meeting space, we’re able to be a hub for the arts center downtown and so yeah, we’re – not excited.”
The Deming Hotel is in Councilman Todd Nation’s district. He notes the building holds the largest concentration of downtown residents and says he hopes that whatever happens to the building, it will continue to have a role in downtown housing “whether that’s for the current population or as market-rate housing or as some kind of housing project for ISU,” Nation said.
Many of the current residents of the Deming Hotel are disabled and cannot drive. Tenants have expressed concern that moving to the new location would leave them without access to essential services such as a nearby post office, bus stop and public library.
Allen Weaver was a bellhop at the Deming Hotel when he was a boy. For the past 16 years, he has been living there as a Section 8 housing resident. While he likes living downtown, like most of the tenants, he seems resigned to moving. “Ain’t too much we can do about it, if you know what I mean,” Weaver said. “If they’re gonna close this up – we gotta move.”
The Terre Haute Housing Authority plans to meet with Deming Hotel tenants in June to discuss plans for a move. Construction on the new housing project is not expected to begin until 2015.