Category Archives: Current News

HAND, township trustees work to prevent COVID-related evictions

Eviction Notice image

Individuals and families that have problems paying their rent or mortgages due to the COVID-19 pandemic can seek assistance through a new program announced Aug. 10 by HAND Inc. and the Hamilton County Township Trustee Association.

“Since March, there has been a pause in any eviction proceedings at both the state and federal level,” explained Andrea Davis, executive director of Noblesville-based nonprofit HAND Inc. “But individuals and families who have lost their jobs or suffered medically due to COVID are still responsible for full payment of their rent or mortgage. This program will allow us to help those at risk of eviction.”

The federal moratorium on evictions ended in late July, and Gov. Eric Holcomb allowed the state moratorium expire on Aug. 14.

Danielle Carey Tolan, president of the Hamilton County Township Trustee Association, encourages all Hamilton County residents to seek assistance before their landlords initiate eviction proceedings.

“Our goal is to keep people in their homes,” Tolan said. “We know that stable housing is critical for a child’s success in school and better health outcomes—both physical and mental—for all family members. This then reduces the burden on our many social services in the county.”

Residents who need assistance should connect with their local township trustee to assess the situation and determine the best sources of help. You can find your trustee at http://wayeo.egis.39dn.com/   (Click “accept”, enter your address and click “trustee” on the right). In keeping with COVID safe policies, begin the process by calling your trustee to set a phone appointment time.

Township trustees will assess the needs and coordinate with local nonprofits to provide resources.  Other nonprofits participating in this program include:  Aspire Indiana, Family Promise of Hamilton County, Good Samaritan Network, and Shepherd’s Center of Hamilton County.

Funding partners include Hamilton County Community Foundation, Hamilton County’s Community Development Block Grant program, and the Central Indiana COVID-19 Community Economic Relief Fund (C-CERF). C-CERF is a community fund established by founding partners Lilly Endowment Inc., Central Indiana Community Foundation, Eli Lilly and Company Foundation, Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation and United Way of Central Indiana to support human services organizations and the individuals and families they serve who are affected directly and indirectly by the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis.

The state also is providing a total of $40 million in rental assistance to residents outside of Marion County. Applications for those funds are available at https://www.indianahousingnow.org/.

“By pooling our resources in a coordinated way, we can stretch our funding to reach as many people as possible while providing a variety of services to families in need,” Davis said.  “It is the smart way to work as a community to keep our community thriving for all our residents.”

Report: Housing ‘out of reach’ for low-wage Hoosiers

A minimum-wage worker in Indiana needs to work a whopping 90 hours a week to be able to afford a two-bedroom rental home here, according to a report jointly released this month by the National Low Income Housing Coalition and Prosperity Indiana.

In Hamilton and Boone counties — where housing costs more than the state average — that number rises to an even more unimaginable 100 hours per week.

The national research and advocacy organization’s annual “Out of Reach” report found that full-time workers in Indiana need to earn at least $16.52 per hour to pay rent and utilities without spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

That so-called “housing wage” is $18.19/hour in the two suburban counties where HAND owns 137 rental units leased to low-income residents.

“Housing is a basic human need, but millions of people in America can’t afford a safe, stable home,” said Diane Yentel, NLIHC president and CEO. “The harm and trauma of this enduring challenge is laid bare during COVID-19, when millions of people in America risk losing their homes during a pandemic.”

Data gathered before the current health emergency shows that low-income households couldn’t pay fair market rent in any of Indiana’s 92 counties without exceeding the 30-percent threshold widely considered to be affordable. The impact of COVID-related income loss only makes the situation worse.

“This pandemic has certainly highlighted the very harsh reality of living at the edge of housing stability – often just one paycheck away from homelessness – and the impact it can have on the health and well-being of us all,” said Jessica Love, executive director of Prosperity Indiana, a statewide community development network.

More: Read Prosperity Indiana’s news release.

Tipton board OKs smaller senior development

Rendering of 9-unit Southwood Villas

The Tipton Board of Zoning Appeals voted  June 25 to allow HAND to build seven affordable apartments for seniors on property the Noblesville organization acquired last year.

HAND’s original plans called for building nine units on five residential lots, which would have required a variance reducing the minimum lot size from 8,000 square feet per unit to about 4,500 square feet per unit. The board voted 3-1 to reduce the minimum lot size to 5,725 square feet per unit.

The BZA also approved a zoning variance that will allow HAND to establish a 10-foot buffer yard along its shared property lines without building a fence. Members rejected a request to reduce the required number of parking spaces from 18 to 12, but their decision to eliminate two units also reduces the on-site parking needs.

HAND has submitted its development plan to the city’s Plan Commission for review. A decision could be made as soon as its next meeting on Aug. 13.

State unveils $25M COVID rental assistance program

rental assistance program slide

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb on June 24 announced the Indiana COVID-19 Rental Assistance Program, a $25 million fund designed to help Indiana renters adversely affected by COVID-19 avoid eviction.

Qualified renters may receive up to $2,000 in assistance to help cover four months of rent payments and/or late fees.

Applications will be accepted online beginning at 9 a.m. on Monday, July 13. Funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and officials expect demand for assistance to exceed available resources.

To be eligible, a rental household must:

  • Live outside of Marion County (which has its own rental fund)
  • Have experienced an involuntary loss of income due to COVID-19
  • Be rent burdened or at risk of eviction
  • Not be receiving rental assistance through Section 8 or USDA Rural Development programs
  • Not be receiving COVID-19 rental assistance for the same months it is seeking state help

“This has been a very challenging time for Hoosiers, and the economic impacts of COVID-19 has left some renters in a tough spot,” Holcomb said in a news release. “The Indiana COVID-19 Rental Assistance Program will support our renters, improve our state’s housing stability and help prevent evictions as the state gets back on track.”

The program will provide households with up to $500 in assistance for four months, totaling a maximum of $2,000 in assistance to eligible renters to help cover past and ongoing rent payments or late fees.

Approximately 12,000 Indiana households could be helped. Payments will be made directly to the landlord, who must agree to participate.

If they have not done so, renters should speak with their property manager if they are unable to make their payments. More resources area available in the state’s Coronavirus Eviction & Foreclosure Prevention Guide.

HAND also will be administering rental assistance to households in its service area who are referred by their township trustee.

Suburban Housing Conference moving online

Senator Todd Young spoke at the 2019 Suburban Housing Conference

HAND’s sixth-annual Suburban Housing Conference is going virtual.

Given the uncertainty around the COVID-19 public health emergency, this year’s conference content will be delivered via a series of interactive online workshops planned for 9-10:30 a.m. Aug. 28, Sept. 25, and Oct. 23.

Registration will open Aug. 1.

Here’s a look at the topics speakers and attendees will discuss:

Aug. 28: The Impact of COVID-19 on Suburban Evictions & Foreclosures

Sept. 25: Equity and Race in Suburban Housing

Oct. 23: Changing the Conversation from NIMBY to YIMBY

Check the Suburban Housing Conference website for information on speakers, which will be added as they are confirmed. Organizers also are working to provide continuing education credits for planners; that information will be available when it is finalized.

Many thanks to our conference sponsors, including the following:

Noblesville Housing Authority logo

Please contact Andrea Davis to discuss additional sponsorship opportunities.