U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Office of Community Planning and Development

Consolidated Plan Contact


Gary, Indiana, is located in the northwestern corner of the State, near Chicago, Illinois. The city is home to a wealth of transportation modes, including major highways such as Interstates 80, 90, and 94; eight freight train lines; three passenger train lines; and a commuter service that connects Northwest Indiana to Chicago. International service from Chicago's Midway and O'Hare Airports and from the Gary Regional Airport can easily transport goods and people to anywhere in the world.

Northwest Indiana is also linked to the Atlantic Ocean and the world beyond by the St. Lawrence Seaway and Burns International Harbor by way of Lake Michigan. The nearby Port of Indiana in Portage has direct access to the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi River and is located in an international trade zone designed to increase commerce in the region. Gary plans to build an international seaport at Buffington as part of its intermodal cargo park development.

Action Plan

For the first year of its Consolidated Plan, Gary will have a total of $13 million in funding from the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, the HOME Investment Partnership (HOME) program, and the Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG) program. Some of the projects slated for this year include upgrading of the Ambridge-Mann Community Center, the emergency rehabilitation program for housing, and improvements to fire stations.

Citizen Participation

Gary has made a concerted effort to provide opportunities for its citizens to participate in developing the Consolidated Plan. Public meetings were held on September 8 and 29, 1994. A draft of the plan, citizen questionnaire, and other U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Consolidated Plan materials were made available in appropriate public places, and a summary of the Consolidated Plan was published in the local newspaper. The citizen review and comment period was from September 7 to October 6, 1994.


In 1990 Gary's population was 116,646, a 23-percent decrease since 1980. Gary had 40,752 households, with the average household size being 2.83 people. Of those households, 11,738 had extremely low incomes at 0-30 percent of the median family income (MFI); 5,674 had very low incomes at 31-50 percent of the MFI; 7,260 had low incomes at 51-80 percent of the MFI; and 2,997 had moderate incomes at 81-95 percent of the MFI. Half of the 27,669 Gary households with incomes below 95 percent of the MFI were homeowners.



Between 1979 and 1990, the civilian labor force in northwestern Indiana declined almost 10 percent. The area lost more than 40 percent of its jobs in the manufacturing sector, with a 48-percent job loss in the steel mills. In 1980 nonmanufacturing employment represented 60 percent of total employment and by 1990 it had increased to 70 percent.

While manufacturing employment has significantly declined, the five major steel producers in the region have invested millions of dollars to upgrade their northwest Indiana facilities. New retail, service, and small manufacturing firms are locating in the area. Skilled labor, generally overly abundant in the 1980s, is in demand again. In 1983 the unemployment rate had climbed to 15.4 percent; by 1990 it had declined to an annual average of 5.7 percent. Overall, the regional economy seems to be recovering from a severe and prolonged recession and is moving toward a better integrated and potentially sustainable economic base.

Housing Needs

HUD defines housing problems as inadequate physical conditions, overcrowding, or payment of 30 percent or more of income for housing expenses.

Rental households with housing problems include:

Among rental households, large-family households (five or more related persons) consistently have the most housing problems.

Homeowners with housing problems include:

Market Conditions

Almost 60 percent of the 40,968 occupied housing units are owner occupied. The vacancy rate is 13 percent for rental units and almost 3 percent for ownership units. About 25 percent of rental units and 28 percent of ownership units are considered substandard.

The Metropolitan Statistical Area's average applicable fair market rent is $424. However, the average affordable rent in Gary is $397, which residents with incomes that are 30 to 50 percent of the MFI can afford. According to the Northwest Indiana Board of Realtors, the value of owner-occupied units in Gary and the metropolitan area is increasing. In 1980 the median value of owner-occupied units was $25,000 for the city and $41,000 for the metropolitan area. In 1990 the median value of owner-occupied units in Gary was $31,700 compared with $54,800 for the metropolitan area.

Affordable Housing Needs

Households that pay 30 percent or more of their income for housing are considered to be cost burdened; those who pay half or more of their income for housing are considered to be severely cost burdened. Seventy-three percent of extremely low-income households, 59 percent of very low-income households, 25 percent of low-income households, and 11 percent of moderate-income households are cost burdened. Those with severe cost burdens include 52 percent of extremely low-income households, 14 percent of very low-income households, and 2 percent of low-income households.

Homeless Needs

An estimated 2,078 persons are homeless. About 67 percent are members of homeless families, 19 percent are victims of domestic violence, 3 percent are mentally ill, and 16 percent are drug or alcohol abusers. The majority of homeless persons in this count were found in emergency shelters.

The city has various agencies and facilities to meet the needs of the homeless, but gaps in service exist. For example, youth who have lived in children's homes throughout adolescence may find themselves without a place to live once they turn 18. Such individuals may not have matured or developed mentally enough to live on their own.

The homeless have an urgent need for safe and adequate housing and, to some extent, supportive services. On the whole, the greatest need is for affordable rental housing for all groups, including large families. Housing is also in short supply for persons who require specialized accommodations.

Public and Assisted Housing Needs

The Gary Housing Authority (GHA) continues to provide safe and sanitary public housing to extremely low-income families and special needs individuals who are financially unable to afford safe and decent private housing. Public housing sites are scattered throughout the city. Gary has 2,469 public housing units, and 201 of them are vacant. About half of the vacant units are undergoing rehabilitation. Based on a recent GHA assessment, 39 public housing units need to be modified to provide accessibility to disabled people.

The GHA also administers 827 tenant-based units through the Section 8 rental assistance program. The program issues 541 certificates and 286 vouchers. Currently, the program has no vacancies. Private sector housing provides 661 assisted units to low-income individuals and families. Other housing assisted programs include Section 221 (d) (3), Indiana Housing Finance Authority (IHFA), the Section 8 set-aside program, and the Project 236 program. At least 1,800 households, including sheltered and unsheltered people, are waiting for available affordable housing.

Barriers to Affordable Housing

Overly restrictive income limits for many HUD programs are major barriers to affordable housing. The city also cited two other barriers: inaccurate appraisal practices, and residents' inability to obtain homeowners' insurance because the city is considered a high-risk area.

Fair Housing

The city cites redlining, where home loans or insurance are withheld from neighborhoods considered to be poor risks, as a serious fair housing problem. However, the Gary Human Relations Commission is working with the Northwest Indiana Community Reinvestment Alliance, a group of financial institutions, to provide mortgages to low- and moderate-income families. Furthermore, the commission is monitoring the practices of lenders and landlords and is working to improve citizen awareness of their rights to seek financial assistance for home improvements and purchase of property. They will also continue to research and analyze information related to the credit needs of the community while seeking ways and means of increasing citizens economic awareness.

Lead-Based Paint

An estimated 21,923 very low-income households and 5,085 low-income households live in housing with potential lead-based paint hazards; 57 percent of the total housing units may contain lead-based paint. Almost all of the 74 licensed child-care facilities probably contain lead-based paint hazards, because they were built before lead-based paints were banned.

To reverse the negative effects of lead-based paint exposure, the city proposes the following actions within the next year:

Other Issues

Like any other city, Gary has a population of residents who have unmet special housing needs. For example, Gary has public and private organizations that address the needs of elderly and frail elderly people, but there is still a shortage of facilities, particularly for the frail elderly population. As the general population ages, the need for additional affordable and supportive housing will increase. At least 100 elderly people need supportive housing. Area nursing homes and home care providers indicated the city needs additional facilities for frail elderly and physically disabled people. The GHA's waiting list for affordable housing includes 60 elderly people.

Accessibility is the most obvious housing need of the physically disabled. About 92 physically disabled people who are not homeless require more accessible housing.

More facilities are needed for the mentally ill population. The Gary Community Mental Health Department provides most of the support for the mentally ill population. In some cases, area hospitals have provided beds to mentally ill people for months because the area lacks alternatives. An estimated 250 people with mental illness who are not homeless have unmet special housing needs.

According to housing and service providers, people who are developmentally disabled, particularly youth, need more transitional and permanent housing. Facilities that provide semi-independent living conditions with limited support services are really needed to enable and encourage self-sufficiency.

Based on data reported by the Clinical Data and Research HIV/AIDS Surveillance, about 287 AIDS cases and 363 HIV-positive cases have been diagnosed in the area. No housing facilities specifically for persons with HIV or AIDS are available.

Community Development Needs

With the help of community input, the city has identified a number of community development needs:


Vision for Change

The city's objectives for the coming years include providing decent housing and suitable living environments, and expanding economic opportunities for low- and moderate-income people.

Housing Priorities

The city has identified the following high-priority housing needs for the next 3 years:

Nonhousing Community Development Priorities

High-priority community development needs include:

Antipoverty Strategy

The city has integrated social services and housing activities for households below the poverty line. Gary's antipoverty strategies are consistent with the National Affordable Housing Act and include:

Coordination of Strategic Plan

The city is restructuring departmental services and enlisting nonprofit organizations and private sector support to implement its Consolidated Plan. After completing these activities, the city will be better equipped to create and develop more efficient opportunities to provide safe and affordable housing.


Description of Key Projects

Lead Agency

The Gary Community Planning and Development Division is the lead agency for the Consolidated Plan.


MAP 1 depicts points of interest in the jurisdiction.

MAP 2 depicts points of interest and low-moderate income areas.

MAP 3 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and minority concentration levels.

MAP 4 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and unemployment levels.

MAP 5 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects.

MAP 6 depicts Neighborhood Segments and proposed HUD funded projects.

MAP 7 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects within one of the four neighborhoods indicated in MAP 6.

MAP 8 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects within another of the four neighborhoods indicated in MAP 6.

MAP 9 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded project(s) from a street level vantage point; in addition, a table provides information about the project(s).

To comment on Gary's Consolidated Plan, please contact Helena Smith, Community Development Administrator, at 219 - 881 - 5075.
Return to Indiana's Consolidated Plans.