December 21, 2015 – The IBJ recently provided valuable coverage to the issue of affordable housing in Hamilton County. The original article laid out the reasons “Hamilton County officials (are) leery of new homes with lower price”. Of course, this is a frequent topic of concern for HAND, and it was a popular workshop at the Neighborhoods NOW Conference last month.
The IBJ Editorial the following week provided a perspective that this “Residential litmus test impedes diversity”, and HAND provided a response which was published this week.
Follow the links above to read the full coverage, and see HAND’s response below.
RE: “A New Test for Housing Projects,” November 30, 2015
Letter to the Editor:
I appreciate Lindsey Erdody’s attention to the housing issues addressed in her article, “A New Test for Housing Projects,” November 30, 2015. The article highlights the perception that it is impossible to produce housing for people of modest incomes in Hamilton County. My organization, Hamilton County Area Neighborhood Development (HAND), Inc., actively pursues this goal, and we don’t go it alone. In reality, many local stakeholders also believe it should become a priority to build this type of housing.
Last month, HAND hosted the first Neighborhoods NOW Conference in Fishers, which attracted over 100 leaders, developers and residents to explore solutions to prevalent issues: General Affordability, Growth and Jobs, Aging Population and Sustainability.
We discussed how a shortage of workers leaves service jobs unfilled and stymies local business growth. In looking to the future, nearly 60% of the jobs in the County’s target growth industries (inc. Life Sciences, IT, Innovative Manufacturing, Business and Financial Services and Amateur Sports) earn less than $18/hour (the wage necessary to afford the median rent in the area).
Growth and prosperity in Hamilton County relies on the connectivity of housing and jobs. Transit helps, but housing linked to jobs can address this more quickly, efficiently and sustainably. Millennials and seniors alike desire urban, walkable neighborhoods with close proximity to jobs and services, so let’s find ways to provide diverse housing stock to accommodate the demand.
In 2016, HAND invites local officials to develop a Housing Advisory group to carry forward the strategies recommended at our Conference. This group will prioritize strategies, research barriers, promote best practices and pursue avenues to build local capacity. HAND will work with existing partners and recruit new representatives from across the County to get this started. Eventually, these policies may serve as a model for other metropolitan communities.
One thing I know about Hamilton County is that when it sets its mind to something, it happens. I’m inviting leaders to accept the challenge and determine how to can build diverse, sustainable communities in spite of property tax caps – a condition which handicaps the entire state.
HAND invests in neighborhoods, provides housing solutions, and builds partnerships to improve the lives and build community in Hamilton County. Individuals interested in learning more can visit www.handincorporated.org or call 317-674-8108 for more information.