FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Nate Lichti, Executive Director HAND 347 South 8th Street, Suite A Noblesville, IN 46060 317-674-8108 firstname.lastname@example.org
Every two years the State of Indiana publishes rules on where the majority of the state’s affordable housing will be produced. This policy is the Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP) and it guides the investment of over a hundred million dollars across the state. In response, nonprofit and for-profit development companies compete in an increasingly competitive process for these funds. Ultimately, the state benefits from about 800-1,000 housing units built each year through these public-private partnerships.
Many are wondering whether the priorities currently in place serve the state and provide the best opportunities for Hoosiers to access jobs and economic opportunities. For the past few cycles, Indiana’s policy prioritized revitalization projects that took abandoned buildings and transformed them into housing. Hamilton County Area Neighborhood Development (HAND), a local nonprofit community development corporation, observed this disparity and mobilized to pursue changes in the state’s formula.
Executive Director Nate Lichti says, “We feel state policy should reflect the private market, and if the housing demand is in these growing communities, the state should value the assets and opportunities contained within these communities. Plus, companies are expanding and having a hard time attracting a workforce, so connecting jobs and affordable housing makes a ton of sense.”
Don’t forget to register for Putt ‘n Par on August 7th!
Due to the current policy, it has been four years since development has occurred in Hamilton County through this program. In comparison, Marion, Allen and Lake Counties combined added 2,927 housing units through this program. Single-handedly, the private market in Hamilton County built almost exactly the same number of houses as all three of these combined (11,349 vs. 11,416).
“Unfortunately, we’re not getting high quality housing that is also affordable. Private developers can only do one of those at a time, quality or affordable, so we need to find ways to build some affordability into these areas with lots of opportunities,” says Lichti.
In May, HAND launched a campaign to raise awareness of the issue, and put a petition on its website so individuals could easily express their support. Within a month, 109 individuals from across Hamilton County signed on to support the initiative. “We had support from social service agencies, concerned citizens and elected officials,” reports Lichti. “We were also especially grateful for residents of Sheridan and tenants of Spicewood Gardens who spoke up at a public hearing in downtown Indianapolis to support changes in the policy.”
Lt. Governor Ellspermann at HAND’s Annual Meeting in May told the audience, “You know, some studies show that some affordable housing opportunities can provide that path out of poverty, particularly when they’re in mixed income neighborhoods. That’s such an important challenge that we want addressed.”
Lichti acknowledges, “Sometimes our constituents aren’t the most comfortable in promoting affordable housing because of the negative perceptions that exist, but I believe this campaign provides evidence that these issues are broadly shared and increasingly pressing.”
“Nationally, there are huge policy debates going on about the best ways to address issues of housing instability and homelessness. However, there seems to also be a consensus that locally-driven projects and program designs are the most effective. Now, we have over 100 people engaged in this conversation, and I’m excited to see what ideas we can implement locally with or without the support of the state.”
As a next step, HAND is hosting the “Neighborhoods NOW Conference on Housing and Neighborhood Development” on November 10th at the Forum Convention Center in Fishers. Dozens of partner organizations are helping plan conversations around four prominent themes: Growth, Affordability, Senior Housing and Livability. The outcome of the Neighborhoods NOW Conference will be to identify the key strategies Hamilton County can take to continue providing a high quality of life to all its residents. Partial support for the conference has been received from Visit Hamilton County, PNC Bank, and the City of Carmel, but more support is needed.
HAND invests in neighborhoods, provides housing solutions, and builds partnerships to improve the lives and build community in Hamilton County. HAND is hosting a fundraiser on Friday, August 7th that includes golfing (3pm) and family games and putt putt (5:30pm). Individuals interested in learning more can visit www.handincorporated.org or call 317-674-8108 for more information.