All posts by Andrea Davis

HAND awarded $2M for planned workforce housing development in Fishers

The Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority’s Board of Directors voted today to award HAND Inc. a $1.5 million grant from its HOME Investment Partnerships program and a $500,000 loan from its Development Fund to support construction of 11 rental cottages in Fishers.

HAND, a nonprofit community housing development organization based in Noblesville, plans to invest more than $3 million to build Cumberland Cottages. Hamilton County previously allocated $200,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding to HAND for property acquisition.

HAND will continue to seek additional funding for the project, which will also utilize a loan from Citizens State Bank.

Cumberland Cottages is planned for almost 2 acres of mostly vacant land at the southwest corner of Cumberland Road and 141st Street in Fishers. Earlier this year, the Fishers City Council agreed to rezone the property to allow for the development.

Plans call for building four two-bedroom units and seven three-bedroom units in what’s known as a cottage court layout, clustered around shared green space. Six of the 11 cottages will be reserved for residents who earn no more than 60 percent of area median income.

This will be HAND’s first rental property in Fishers. It owns eight rental communities in Hamilton and Boone counties—in Carmel, Cicero, Noblesville, Sheridan, and Lebanon—leasing almost 140 affordable apartments to low-income residents. Construction of a ninth, in Tipton, is expected to start this fall.

“We know that residents throughout Hamilton County need a wide range of housing options—including some affordable ones—and HAND is thrilled to be able to help,” said Executive Director Andrea Davis.

As part of its application for HOME funding, HAND signed service agreements with more than a dozen local nonprofits that may be able to assist residents of Cumberland Cottages. Tenants will receive information about community partners’ services at move-in.

Construction is expected to begin early next year, following the completion of a federal environmental review and the city of Fishers’ approval of the final development plan.

HAND has enlisted the help of several local firms to develop Cumberland Cottages. Project partners include David Rausch Studio, Jung Design, Context Design, Weihe Engineers, and Meyer Najem Construction.

New group drafting comprehensive housing strategy for Hamilton County

Blueprint

What started as a few nonprofit and government leaders working together to keep Hamilton County residents housed during the COVID-19 pandemic has grown into a broader alliance of organizations focused on developing a countywide housing strategy.

The immediate fallout from the pandemic revealed that many Hamilton County households are living on the edge, one medical crisis, job furlough or family emergency away from disaster—in large part because housing costs are increasing more quickly than incomes.

Millions of dollars in public and private grants for emergency rental and utility assistance programs have helped many households avert disaster and start to catch up, but the federal eviction moratorium ends July 31, putting others at risk of being displaced.

And those short-term solutions don’t do anything to address the long-term problem: Hamilton County needs a wider range of housing options that are affordable to all residents, regardless of age, income, or occupation.

HAND Inc., which has been building and preserving affordable housing here since 2003, is one of the Hamilton County Housing Collaborative’s founding members, along with Family Promise of Hamilton County, the Westfield-Washington Township Trustee’s Office, and the Noblesville Housing Authority. Dozens of others have joined the alliance in the past few months as the group’s focus has shifted to the future.

Now the Housing Collaborative is soliciting proposals for a Housing Needs Assessment & Strategy Study, which members will use to make data-based recommendations about how to increase the county’s attainable housing inventory. Organizers also hope to incorporate findings from the City of Noblesville’s 2016 Housing Analysis and a pending 2021 update. The City of Fishers just selected a consultant for a housing study that’s expected to take eight months to complete.

Ultimately, the Collaborative hopes to make a case for additional public and private investment in attainable housing to meet Hamilton County’s needs, both now and in the future.

One potential source of funding: tens of millions of dollars of federal funding awarded to Hamilton County and the cities of Carmel, Fishers, Noblesville, and Westfield through the American Rescue Plan. The smaller towns of Arcadia, Atlanta, Cicero, and Sheridan also are slated to receive ARP funding, from the state’s allocation.

The money is intended to help communities recover from the impact of COVID-19, and affordable housing development is specifically mentioned as an eligible use in U.S. Treasury Department guidelines.

Hamilton County has not yet determined how to spend its $65 million allocation, but a committee that includes all three County Commissioners and three rotating members of the County Council are putting together an “investment plan” for the first of two expected installments. Once approved by the Board of Commissioners, the spending plan will be published on the county website.

Request for Proposals: County housing needs, strategy study

Hamilton County Area Neighborhood Development, Inc. (HAND) is soliciting proposals for a Housing Needs Assessment & Strategy Study (“Study”). HAND has led this initiative every five years since 2004 on behalf of the County and eight included municipalities. This 2021 study will be part of the action plan for the Hamilton County Community Development Block Grant Program administered by the Noblesville Housing Authority, and as such, must meet those federal procurement requirements.

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HAND seeks proposals for 2021 Suburban Housing Conference sessions, panels

Tentatively titled Hot Topics in Housing, HAND’s seventh-annual Suburban Housing Conference is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Friday, Aug. 27, 2021, at the Embassy Suites in Noblesville.

This year, HAND Inc. is accepting session proposals and suggestions from you!

Professionals attending previous conferences included elected officials, local stakeholders, local nonprofits, for-profit housing developers, lenders, contractors and property managers.

We are seeking presenters to lead conversations on hot topics in suburban housing, such as:

  • Housing our local workforce
  • Attainable options
  • Suburban transportation
  • Quality of life
  • Suburban challenges like HOAs, aging housing stock and sprawl
  • Diversity & Equity

Criteria for presenters:

  • Presentations will be with all those in attendance (not a break-out)
  • Please state clear objectives of your presentation or panel
  • New and non-traditional ideas are encouraged!

Fill out the form here and submit it to propose speakers or topics. Submissions are due Monday, June 14, 2021.

HAND adjusts plans for Tipton senior apartments

Construction of five rental units for low-income seniors in Tipton is expected to begin this spring after several months of public meetings and legal proceedings caused HAND to adjust its plans.

HAND originally planned to build nine rental units on five residential lots it owns on Southwood Drive, just east of the Tipton High School football field. But a Boone County special judge ruled in November that the nonprofit developer cannot build duplexes that cross platted lot lines, sending HAND and its design team back to the drawing board.

New designs are being finalized and cost projections are being updated in order to resubmit the project to the Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority, which awarded HAND $2 million for the 9-unit development in 2019.

The Tipton Board of Zoning Appeals ruled in June 2020 that HAND could build seven units on the site, more than the five allowed by the city’s development standards. To build nine units, HAND needed a zoning variance reducing the minimum lot size from 8,000 square feet per unit to about 4,500 square feet per unit. The BZA agreed to a compromise of 5,275 square feet per unit, but neighbors objected and asked for a judicial review of the decision.

The revised plans call for one stand-alone rental unit to be built on each HAND-owned lot.