Category Archives: Current News

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 July 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.

Plans for Tipton senior housing take shape

HAND Inc. is scheduled to present its plans to build nine units of senior housing in Tipton to the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals on June 10, potentially clearing the way for a $2.1 million investment.

Called Southwood Villas, the proposed development would be located on five residential lots HAND acquired last year on Southwood Drive, just east of Tipton High School. The oddly shaped lots, which back up to the school’s football field, have been vacant since construction on the neighborhood began in the mid-1990s.

Although the property’s zoning allows for attached housing like what HAND is planning, the nonprofit housing developer is asking the city to waive three other development standards related to lot size, parking and fencing.

The bulk of project funding will come from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority’s HOME Investment Partnerships and Development Fund programs.

Residents must be at least 55 years old and earn no more than 60 percent of area median income: about $28,850 per year for a single tenant or $33,000 per year for a couple. Rents will range from $550-$750 per month, depending on household size and income.

The development will address key housing issues and goals cited in Tipton’s 2012 Comprehensive Plan by providing safe and suitable housing opportunities for the growing senior population. The rental housing options will help with alleviating concerns about housing accessibility, property maintenance and affordability that older adults often experience.

Founded in 2003 as Hamilton County Area Neighborhood Development Inc., HAND has invested more than $21 million in suburban housing.

HAND promotes Davis to Executive Director

HAND Inc.’s Board of Directors has promoted Andrea Muirragui Davis to Executive Director, effective immediately. Davis has been serving as Interim Executive Director since November.

Interim Deputy Director Rebekah Metzger was named Development Director, a shift made to emphasize the nonprofit organization’s ongoing focus on neighborhood and community development.

“We are excited with the progress that both Andrea and Rebekah have made in continuing HAND’s mission,” Board Chairman Keith Broadnax said of the appointments, approved May 14. “If there was ever a need for affordable housing, it is now. We are committed to continuing to serve the affordable housing needs of our families and communities.”

Davis is a Fort Wayne native who graduated from Ball State University and worked as a newspaper journalist for more than 20 years, most recently serving as Indianapolis Business Journal’s North Editor covering Hamilton and Boone counties. She joined HAND in 2016 as Outreach Coordinator.

“I am thrilled to be able to work on addressing the need for additional housing options in the suburbs,” she said. “Our communities are wonderful places to work, play and live, but too many of those who work to make them attractive simply can’t afford to live here too. That’s not OK.”

A resident of Fishers, Davis serves on the boards of the Hamilton County Leadership Academy and SERVE Noblesville. She also is a member of Fishers Tri Kappa, the Breathe Easy Hamilton County Coalition and 100+ Women Who Care of Hamilton County.

Metzger, who lives in Indianapolis, graduated from Indiana University and is a member of the Hamilton County Leadership Academy Class of 2020. Prior to joining HAND as Project Manager in 2017, she worked for the John Boner Neighborhood Center in Indianapolis. Metzger is a certified Housing Development Finance Professional.

The HAND board’s decision comes the same week the organization was awarded a $150,000 grant from United Way of Central Indiana to provide rental assistance to residents affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Founded in 2003 as Hamilton County Area Neighborhood Development Inc., HAND addresses the housing needs of low- and moderate-income individuals, families and senior citizens in Indianapolis’ northern suburbs. It owns seven affordable rental communities in Hamilton County and one in Boone County, leasing a total of 137 units. A ninth development is proposed in Tipton.

HAND wins grant for COVID-related rental assistance

United Way of Central Indiana has awarded HAND a $150,000 grant to provide rental assistance to Hamilton County residents affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funding, announced May 14, was part of $1.8 million awarded to 50 organizations in suburban Indianapolis thanks to a recent $3.5 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help meet the needs of Central Indiana communities outside Marion County.

HAND is collaborating with Hamilton County township trustees’ offices to help renters experiencing financial difficulties because of the public health emergency. Although Gov. Eric Holcomb has paused eviction and foreclosure proceedings through at least June 4, residents still are responsible for paying their rent or mortgage.

According to National Multifamily Housing Council research, about 31 percent of tenants did not pay rent during the first week of April, shortly after Indiana and many other states implemented Stay Home orders.

Township trustees already are the initial point of contact for Hamilton County residents seeking emergency financial help. Once HAND’s rental assistance fund is established, trustees may refer qualified clients for additional aid.

Since March, HAND has been working with other local nonprofits, including the Hamilton County Trustees Association, to ensure those affected by the pandemic know their housing rights and responsibilities. HAND’s website, www.handincorporated.org, has become a clearinghouse of information about local housing resources available during the COVID crisis.

Founded in 2003 as Hamilton County Neighborhood Development Inc., HAND addresses the housing needs of low- and moderate-income individuals, families and senior citizens in Indianapolis’ northern suburbs. The nonprofit owns seven affordable rental communities in Hamilton County and one in Boone County.

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.