Category Archives: Housing Conference

Conference highlights need for range of housing options

Attendance at HAND’s 2022 Suburban Housing Conference more than doubled from the previous year, as local leaders gathered to see the latest Hamilton County housing research and explore ways to address the need for more affordable options.

Over 175 people registered for the May 4 event presented by the Hamilton County Community Foundation, including more than a dozen elected officials. In welcoming guests to the conference, County Commissioner Christine Altman stressed the importance of having a full continuum of housing options to meet the needs of the county’s growing workforce. If businesses can’t find employees they need here, eventually, they will look elsewhere.

“If we’re not growing, we’re dying,” she said.

And Hamilton County is becoming less affordable to more people, according to the results of a new housing study released at the conference. Consultant Katie Wertz of Indianapolis-based Greenstreet Ltd. walked attendees through the research, which shows that stagnant incomes and growing home prices are creating affordability problems for most income groups – especially for those households earning less than $98,000 per year (120 percent of area median income).

Hamilton County Economic Development Corp.’s Mike Thibideau led a panel discussion about creating a housing continuum, soliciting insights from Noblesville’s Director of Community Development Sarah Reed, Fishers’ Director of Planning and Zoning Megan Vukusich, and local developers Tony Bagato of Lennar Homes and Justin Moffett of Old Town Companies.

Westfield Washington Township Trustee Danielle Carey Tolan delivered a lunchtime keynote, sharing her observations from the trenches. Township trustees provide financial assistance to residents in need, and the Hamilton County Trustees Association, which Tolan leads, has been administering the county’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program for those impacted by COVID.

“I’m not responsible for fixing every person’s problems when they walk through my door. They have to do that work,” Tolan said. “However, if my community can’t even provide a range of opportunities to improve their lives, then I cry for my community. … We are a resource-filled county in terms of smarts and wealth  – it is time to reexamine our priorities and then act on them.”

The conference’s afternoon sessions included three workshops that explored specific strategies that could help improve the housing outlook: Community Land Trusts and Housing Trust Funds, Public-Private-Philanthropic Partnerships, and Land-use Strategies to Increase & Diversify Housing.

Tom Kilian, president of the Hamilton County Community Foundation, closed out the day.

Other conference sponsors were the Noblesville Housing Authority, Hamilton County Trustees Association, Family Promise of Hamilton County, Woda Cooper Cos., David Rausch Studio, PNC Bank, and Breathe Easy Hamilton County.

Table sponsors were the City of Carmel’s Division of Planning & Zoning, Greater Indy Habitat for Humanity, Invest Hamilton County, Kittle Property Group, Multifamily Construction Services, RealAmerica, ULI Indiana, Weihe Engineers, and Brenner Design Architects.

Study: Hamilton County becoming less affordable for more people

Given current funding and construction trends, it will take about 286 years to meet the current demand for income-based housing in Hamilton County.

That’s one of the takeaways in a new report from Indianapolis-based consultant Greenstreet, Ltd. Released at HAND’s Suburban Housing Conference on May 4, the 2022 Housing Study showed that Hamilton County is becoming less affordable to more people.

Stagnant incomes and growing home prices create affordability problems for most income groups, but especially for those households earning less than $98,000 (120 percent of area median income).

To address the issue of decreasing attainability, the study recommended Hamilton County stakeholders work together to reduce the cost of development, remove the social stigma attached to attainable housing, stabilize and support at-risk individuals and families, and increase funding for affordable homes.

The study was commissioned by the Noblesville Housing Authority on behalf of the Hamilton County Housing Collaborative, a coalition of 50-plus individuals representing dozens of organizations working to address the community’s housing needs.

As a group, the Collaborative believes that housing should be attainable for those who want to call Hamilton County home – during every stage of their lives – to uphold the economic well-being of Hamilton County. For that to be possible, the county needs a full continuum of housing products and prices.

This year, the study also included information about four specific strategies that could help improve the outlook for accomplishing that.

Click the highlighted text to read the 2022 Hamilton County Housing Study (and its Data Supplement) and learn more about Community Land Trusts, Housing Trust Funds, Public-Private-Philanthropic Partnerships, and Strategies to Increase & Diversify Housing.

County housing study, strategies to be unveiled at HAND Housing Conference

Hamilton County housing is becoming less affordable to more people, and without some real changes, businesses here will find it increasingly difficult to find and keep employees. 

These findings and more from Greenstreet, Ltd., will be released at HAND’s 2022 Suburban Housing Conference on Wednesday, May 4, beginning at 8 a.m.  The daylong event, presented by the Hamilton County Community Foundation, will be held at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center in Noblesville. 

This year’s conference will unveil the results of a Hamilton County housing study commissioned by the Hamilton County Housing Collaborative (HCHC).  For example, the data shows that 18,735 low- and moderate-income households here are spending more than the recommended 30 percent of their income on housing, reducing funds available for other necessities. And rising housing costs also impact households earning more than the area median income. A family earning $97,920 annually, for example, can afford just 28 percent of new homes here and only 12 percent of current listings.

In addition to being the first to see study results, conference attendees will hear from local developers and urban planners about efforts to create a housing continuum in Hamilton County, and they’ll explore some specific strategies during interactive afternoon workshops.

“The Housing Collaborative believes that Hamilton County should have a full range of housing attainable for anyone who wants to call Hamilton County home—during every stage of their lives,” said Andrea Davis, HAND’s executive director. “Without a diverse housing inventory, the county risks its ability to expand its workforce, attract young adults looking for a place to settle, and keep seniors in their community of choice.”

At the conference, more than a dozen local leaders in the housing and economic development fields will dig into specific parts of the study. Every participant will leave the day understanding the need for more diverse and attainable housing, as well as actions they can take.

“Housing is one of the keys to the county’s economic well-being,” Davis said.

HAND hires consultant, schedules public meetings on housing needs

HAND Inc. has engaged Novogradac & Co. LLP, a national accounting and consulting firm, to complete the 2018 Hamilton County Housing Needs Assessment. This data-based analysis, which is conducted twice a decade, is used to determine local housing needs and to identify a strategy for meeting them.

In addition to collecting and evaluating demographic data at the county level, the consultant will solicit input from key stakeholders during a series of public open houses scheduled for the week of July 9. Representatives of local businesses, nonprofit agencies and government entities are invited to attend the meetings to share their thoughts on the state of housing in our community — and how it impacts their organizations.

The two-hour meetings will be held at the following times and locations:

  • 9-11 a.m. July 10, Grand Park Events Center, 19000 Grand Park Blvd., Westfield
  • 1-3 p.m. July 10, Sheridan Public Library, 103 W. First St., Sheridan
  • 2-4 p.m. July 11, Carmel City Hall, 1 Civic Square, Carmel
  • 1-3 p.m. July 12, Arcadia Town Hall, 208 W. Main St., Arcadia
  • 9-11 a.m. July 13, Fishers City Hall, 1 Municipal Drive, Fishers
  • 2-4 p.m. July 13, Noblesville City Hall, 16. S. 10th St., Noblesville

Participants can arrive anytime during the scheduled hours to provide feedback, and an online survey will be available through the end of July.

“The Housing Needs Assessment is a valuable tool, because it allows communities to get a clearer picture of the types and magnitude of their housing challenges and opportunities,” said Rachel Denton, a partner in Novogradac’s Kansas City, Mo., office. “This report will allow leaders and residents of Hamilton County to make better-informed decisions on how to best allocate their resources.”

Results from the study are expected to be unveiled at HAND’s annual sustainable housing conference on Sept. 21. Registration for that event is expected to open July 30.

“HAND has been working to provide quality housing options in Hamilton County for 15 years, and we know that the need is growing along with the population,” said Executive Director Jennifer M. Miller. “Now we will have current data to help us tell that story in an even more compelling way.”

The 2018 Housing Needs Assessment is funded by grants from The Legacy Fund, Duke Energy Foundation and the Noblesville Housing Authority. The report is required of communities that receive federal Community Development Block Grant funding in order to determine local needs.

Founded as Hamilton County Area Neighborhood Development in 2003, HAND has developed seven affordable rental communities throughout Hamilton County, leasing a total of 106 units to low-income individuals and families. This year, it acquired 17 duplexes in Lebanon, extending its reach to nearby Boone County. Its mission is to be a leader in promoting prosperity and diversity in its communities by providing quality housing opportunities.

Novogradac is a national accounting and consulting firm with over 600 employees and partners in more than 25 offices. Specialty practice areas include tax, audit and consulting services for tax-credit-assisted affordable housing, community revitalization, rehabilitation of historic properties and renewable energy.

Report: Limited housing, transportation options could slow county growth

Neighborhoods NOW logo

HAND this week released a 15-page report summarizing key takeaways from its 2016 Neighborhoods NOW Conference.

Distributed to conference registrants and sponsors, the report was made possible by a grant from Old National Bank Foundation.

Fast-growing Hamilton County is expected to add 50,000 jobs by 2025, but employers here already are finding it difficult to fill some positions because potential job candidates can’t afford to live here or maintain reliable transportation.

Attendees discussed the challenges and brainstormed possible solutions during the Nov. 10 conference; their ideas are included in the report.

Read the 2016 conference report.

See the conference speakers’ slides.