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.