All posts by Andrea Davis

Introducing … HAND’s Cumberland Cottages

HAND Inc. is proposing to develop almost 2 acres of vacant land at the southwest corner of 141st Street and Cumberland Road in Fishers, where it would build 11 rental homes oriented around shared green space.

The Fishers City Council held the first reading of a proposed Planned Unit Development ordinance governing the site on Dec. 21. The city Plan Commission’s PUD Committee is expected to review the plans Feb. 3.

HAND hosted open houses on Dec. 14 and Dec. 15 to share details of the proposed development with neighbors and gather their feedback. Early responses were generally favorable.

Before HAND can develop the property, it needs to be rezoned. Once that happens, the Noblesville-based nonprofit will apply to the Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority for project funding.

If approved as proposed, the development—called Cumberland Cottages—would include 11 two- and three-bedroom cottages, each with a porch. Planned site amenities include an accessible community garden.

“We are excited about the opportunity to put this vacant land to use and benefit the community by building homes that single parents will be able to afford,” said HAND Executive Director Andrea Davis.

The 2018 Hamilton County Housing Needs Assessment showed single-earner households that need more than one bedroom have a hard time finding rentals to fit their budgets.

Founded in 2003 as Hamilton County Area Neighborhood Development Inc., HAND owns eight rental properties with a total of 137 units in Hamilton and Boone counties.

Its most recent development was Home Place Gardens, a 10-unit, $2.5 million community along 106th Street in Carmel.

Cumberland Cottages would be HAND’s first property in Fishers.

We’re been staying home since before it was required!

Person in slippers relaxing by fire

In any other year, we would all be preparing right now for a busy holiday season — that fourth-quarter dash through office parties and school concerts and charity fundraisers.

That’s why we introduced Stay Home for HAND as our signature fundraiser in 2017, to give our supporters an excuse to take a Saturday night off and spend time enjoying the kind of comfort that HAND works to provide our less-fortunate neighbors.

Then came 2020.

Most of us have spent months at home this year, whether we wanted to or not. And we haven’t necessarily been enjoying it. Staying safe during a global pandemic has meant transforming our homes into offices, schools, and warehouses for toilet paper and other necessities.

But can you imagine doing all of that when you’re not sure how you’re going to pay your rent or utility bill? When making a mortgage payment means you have to get groceries at a food bank?

With your help, HAND is working to provide housing that low- and moderate-income families in our community can afford without stretching — or sacrificing. And we couldn’t do it without you.

So you’re invited to support HAND’s efforts by staying in the evening of Nov. 21 — or any Saturday night before the end of the year — and taking the time to really enjoy the place you call home. Soak up the warmth. Snuggle into the comfort. And rest well knowing you are making a difference.

Individual tickets are $25, household tickets $75 and VIP households $150. VIP households will receive a small token of our appreciation, and all “attendees” will have a chance to win one of three prize baskets we will announce in the coming weeks. Winners will be drawn on Facebook Live at noon, Monday, Nov. 23.


New Indiana Supreme Court program tries to avoid evictions

The Indiana State Supreme Court last month unveiled a new statewide program designed to help landlords and tenants settle rent disputes before going to court.

The free Landlord and Tenant Settlement Conference Program allows the parties to work with a neutral facilitator to resolve their issues without filing for eviction. Even if an eviction case is later dismissed, the process can be costly and the stigma associated with eviction often has a long-term effect on a tenant’s ability to find housing.

State leaders announced the program as the courts face a backlog of eviction and foreclosure cases due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The increase in eviction and foreclosure cases requires swift action,” said Chief Justice Loretta Rush. “In the best of outcomes, more tenants will stay in their homes and more landlords will receive rent. That’s a win for the parties and the community.”

Landlords or tenants can request facilitation online; facilitators will help the parties discuss their situation and aid them in finding viable resolutions.

Facilitators are registered mediators, attorneys and senior judges who are provided with training, resources and compensation. Already, more than 100 facilitators have agreed to serve, including Senior Judge David Shaheed, who served as a trial judge during the mortgage foreclosure crisis in 2008.

“I’ve seen firsthand the results that can be achieved when all parties facing a difficult situation come to the table to discuss a resolution,” he said. “Facilitation is a way to help people in a tremendous bind move on to a successful next chapter.”

The Indiana Supreme Court’s Office of Judicial Administration started the Landlord and Tenant Program with support from the Indiana Bar Foundation and the Governor’s Office. The existing Mortgage Foreclosure Facilitation Program remains in place. 

Read the full press release here.