All posts by Grace Pickering

Stories of Home: Mom hunts for affordable apartment

Noblesville resident Sarma Miller is a single mom looking for an apartment she can afford to live in with her 17-month-old daughter—while still feeling safe. She isn’t having much luck.

“I like it here in Noblesville. It is a nice place to live, but the prices for apartments are so expensive,” said Miller, 23. Even most one-bedroom apartments are out of reach for the mother and daughter, she said.

After searching in both Hamilton County and Marion County for apartments, Miller found several in Indianapolis that she could afford. But she isn’t comfortable with the neighborhoods where they are located.

“For me, now that I have daughter, the safety of the area is my number one priority,” explained Miller, who works as a full-time lab assistant at Indiana University Health in downtown Indianapolis.

Miller is not alone. Hamilton County’s relatively low crime rate makes it an attractive place to raise a family, but the high cost of housing means few options for those like her who are still on their way up the career ladder.

The cost of living is higher in Hamilton County than both statewide and national averages, and many low- and middle-income households spend more than the recommended 30 percent of their income to live in the county. Indeed, the United Way’s 2018 ALICE Report found that almost 25,000 Hamilton County households have trouble making ends meet on a monthly basis.

Miller, who from Purdue University in 2019 with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies, is frustrated with the differences in the housing market in Hamilton County compared to West Lafayette.

“In West Lafayette, housing was much more reasonable. It catered to students and more middle-class people,” she said. “It still has areas for people with higher incomes, but it has options for people in every price point.”

According to HAND’s 2018 Housing Needs Assessment, 62 percent of Hamilton County households spend over 30 percent of their income on housing.

Although Miller’s search has been slowed by the state’s Stay At Home order due to COVID-19, when the order is lifted she still hopes to find a place in Hamilton County that suits her needs.

Trivia Night a success

Crowd at Trivia Night

HAND’s third-annual Trivia Night on Feb. 28 raised almost $13,000 to support affordable housing programs in Indianapolis’ northern suburbs, up from about $9,000 last year.

A total of 22 eight-person teams participated in the general trivia competition hosted by Indy’s Live Trivia. After two tie-breakers, the Citizens State Bank team emerged as the winner.

In addition to a raffle and silent auction, the 2020 event included a dessert auction, which raised $987 alone. Each table bid on the chance to get the first choice of desserts, which were donated. The top-bidding table chose a chocolate cake from Classic Cakes in Carmel. A donation from Classic Cakes iNothing Bundt Cakes in Fishers was named the most creative dessert.

Trivia Night helps to support HAND’s programs, including developing affordable rental properties for seniors and families, and a home-repair program to preserve existing affordable housing stock. Since its beginning in 2003, HAND has invested over $21 million in suburban housing.

Many thanks to Trivia Night sponsor Breathe Easy Hamilton County, and to our other dessert donors: Perkins Restaurant and Bakery, Harbour Market, White House Donuts, the Goodie Basket, Janus Development Services, Ginger’s Café, Edible Arrangements, Titus Bakery, and Kolache Factory.

Founded in 2003 as Hamilton County Area Neighborhood Development Inc., HAND’s mission is to be a leader in promoting prosperity and diversity in its communities by providing quality housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income individuals and families.