(Published in the March/April 2011 issue of Prism magazine)
A large board covers the front door of 403 North Gray Street. Chunks of the white brick porch are missing, and brambles from a dead tree swallow up half of the front view. It’s difficult to tell how long the house has been vacant. Just six doors down, Belinda Ellis’ front porch twinkles with icicle lights and a bold Christmas wreath. Inside, her cozy living room is lined with family photos, suede couches, and children’s bicycles. Ellis proudly shows off her home, pointing out pictures of her eight grandchildren. She flings open the back door onto a spacious red deck and even more spacious backyard. That yard is the main reason Ellis lives at 428 North Gray Street.
The house was under renovation when Ellis first saw it in 2007, right after she got out of prison. “I just fell in love with it,” she explains, “’cause I knew it had this huge backyard.” The yard has since become a staging ground for her grandkids’ football games.
It’s unusual for former felons returning to Indianapolis’ Near Eastside to find quality affordable housing, but Ellis’ home was made possible by Englewood Christian Church, and Englewood isn’t known for following the norm.
Continue reading article “From Ramshackle to Shalom.”