Category Archives: Current News

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.

Report: Indiana needs more affordable rentals, especially for poorest Hoosiers

Indiana needs more than 125,000 additional rental homes that are affordable and available to the poorest Hoosiers, according to new research from Prosperity Indiana and the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Their report “The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes,” released in March, found that just 75,219 affordable rental homes are available for 202,171 extremely low-income Hoosier households. That means only 37 affordable rental homes are available for every 100 of those households. And almost three-quarters are severely burdened by the cost of the housing they can find, putting them at risk of homelessness.

The Indianapolis/Carmel/Indianapolis metropolitan area has just 23 affordable and available rental homes for every 100 extremely low income households.

“While Indiana likes to tout being an affordable place to live, I think two questions need to be asked: for whom and compared to what?,” Property Indiana Executive Director Jessica Love said in a news release. “In looking at the data, what we see is how Indiana continues to fail our lowest-income renters, especially when compared to our peers. Only one Midwest state is less affordable than Indiana.”

So why the shortage? Without significant public subsidies, the private housing market does not provide an adequate supply of housing affordable to the poorest renters. Indeed, even if rents fall in an economic downturn, they won’t drop enough for extremely low income households. In fact, a decline in rental income can prompt profit-minded owners to upgrade existing units in order to bring in higher-earning households—or convert properties to other uses.

That is why HAND’s work is so important. As a nonprofit Community Housing Development Organization, HAND is committed to building and preserving affordable housing for the long run. To accomplish this, it works with funding partners like the Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority, Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis, and the Noblesville Housing Authority to bring its developments to fruition.

HAND joins the NLIHC and Prosperity Indiana in advocating for increased production and preservation of affordable rental housing, an increase in rental assistance resources for the lowest income households, a stabilization fund to prevent evictions, and stronger legal protections for renters.

Make a donation today to help keep the suburbs livable, with #housing4all regardless of age, income or occupation.

Partner feature: RealAmerica builds housing for ‘missing middle’ seniors

Indianapolis developer RealAmerica continues to stride ahead of the curve, building innovative housing concepts in Fishers. One of its newest properties, Ritchey Reserve, is designed for growing group of seniors.

With the retirement age rising and pensions decreasing, many seniors are unable to simply retire and live in a high-priced condo. Yet based on their income, they are unable to qualify for affordable housing options.

RealAmerica owner and President Ronda Shrewsbury Weybright, calls this the “Missing Middle”—and aims to fill the gap.

Expected to debut this summer, Ritchey Reserve provides 55 apartment homes for seniors ages 62 and older, offering all of the desirable luxury amenities at attainable price points.

Another innovative concept is RealAmerica’s independent senior services model. Why charge seniors a flat fee for all-inclusive services when most don’t even utilize all services offered? At Ritchey Reserve, there is no added cost for services that may not be used. Allowing residents to choose the services they want based on individual needs and preferences and then helping connect them with those services is the goal of Ritchey’s concierge service component.  

Services include helping residents connect with local providers, continue their rehabilitation or physical therapy, receive regular health checks and on-site quarterly health and wellness screenings, schedule beauty services at the on-site salon, ride a shuttle to local shopping centers and events, request local grocery and prescription delivery, and coordinating food delivery services.

Located in the heart of Fishers on the Nickel Plate Trail at 106th Street and Hague Road, Ritchey Reserve is surrounded by a woodland preserve and includes two miles of wooded trails, encouraging seniors to stay active. All RealAmerica properties are pet friendly, and Ritchey’s amenities include a dog park and pet wash station.

The on-site library and hair salon make it easy for seniors who prefer not to leave the facility. For visiting families from out of town, a guest suite is available for rent. For seniors that have a green thumb, raised bed community gardens are included to encourage residents to grow their own food and stay active.  

Ritchey Reserve’s grand opening is tentatively scheduled for August 2021 with move-in dates as early as July. The waitlist is filling fast, and applications are now being accepted. For more information and to get on the list, visit HomeAtRitcheyReserve.com or call (317) 842-5512.

To learn more about Ronda’s vision for serving seniors in Fishers, please watch this video: https://youtu.be/OkKSVFEqUbo 

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RealAmerica is supporting HAND as a Partner-level sponsor for 2021-2023.