Tag Archives: housing

Conference highlights need for range of housing options

Attendance at HAND’s 2022 Suburban Housing Conference more than doubled from the previous year, as local leaders gathered to see the latest Hamilton County housing research and explore ways to address the need for more affordable options.

Over 175 people registered for the May 4 event presented by the Hamilton County Community Foundation, including more than a dozen elected officials. In welcoming guests to the conference, County Commissioner Christine Altman stressed the importance of having a full continuum of housing options to meet the needs of the county’s growing workforce. If businesses can’t find employees they need here, eventually, they will look elsewhere.

“If we’re not growing, we’re dying,” she said.

And Hamilton County is becoming less affordable to more people, according to the results of a new housing study released at the conference. Consultant Katie Wertz of Indianapolis-based Greenstreet Ltd. walked attendees through the research, which shows that stagnant incomes and growing home prices are creating affordability problems for most income groups – especially for those households earning less than $98,000 per year (120 percent of area median income).

Hamilton County Economic Development Corp.’s Mike Thibideau led a panel discussion about creating a housing continuum, soliciting insights from Noblesville’s Director of Community Development Sarah Reed, Fishers’ Director of Planning and Zoning Megan Vukusich, and local developers Tony Bagato of Lennar Homes and Justin Moffett of Old Town Companies.

Westfield Washington Township Trustee Danielle Carey Tolan delivered a lunchtime keynote, sharing her observations from the trenches. Township trustees provide financial assistance to residents in need, and the Hamilton County Trustees Association, which Tolan leads, has been administering the county’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program for those impacted by COVID.

“I’m not responsible for fixing every person’s problems when they walk through my door. They have to do that work,” Tolan said. “However, if my community can’t even provide a range of opportunities to improve their lives, then I cry for my community. … We are a resource-filled county in terms of smarts and wealth  – it is time to reexamine our priorities and then act on them.”

The conference’s afternoon sessions included three workshops that explored specific strategies that could help improve the housing outlook: Community Land Trusts and Housing Trust Funds, Public-Private-Philanthropic Partnerships, and Land-use Strategies to Increase & Diversify Housing.

Tom Kilian, president of the Hamilton County Community Foundation, closed out the day.

Other conference sponsors were the Noblesville Housing Authority, Hamilton County Trustees Association, Family Promise of Hamilton County, Woda Cooper Cos., David Rausch Studio, PNC Bank, and Breathe Easy Hamilton County.

Table sponsors were the City of Carmel’s Division of Planning & Zoning, Greater Indy Habitat for Humanity, Invest Hamilton County, Kittle Property Group, Multifamily Construction Services, RealAmerica, ULI Indiana, Weihe Engineers, and Brenner Design Architects.

Study: Hamilton County becoming less affordable for more people

Given current funding and construction trends, it will take about 286 years to meet the current demand for income-based housing in Hamilton County.

That’s one of the takeaways in a new report from Indianapolis-based consultant Greenstreet, Ltd. Released at HAND’s Suburban Housing Conference on May 4, the 2022 Housing Study showed that Hamilton County is becoming less affordable to more people.

Stagnant incomes and growing home prices create affordability problems for most income groups, but especially for those households earning less than $98,000 (120 percent of area median income).

To address the issue of decreasing attainability, the study recommended Hamilton County stakeholders work together to reduce the cost of development, remove the social stigma attached to attainable housing, stabilize and support at-risk individuals and families, and increase funding for affordable homes.

The study was commissioned by the Noblesville Housing Authority on behalf of the Hamilton County Housing Collaborative, a coalition of 50-plus individuals representing dozens of organizations working to address the community’s housing needs.

As a group, the Collaborative believes that housing should be attainable for those who want to call Hamilton County home – during every stage of their lives – to uphold the economic well-being of Hamilton County. For that to be possible, the county needs a full continuum of housing products and prices.

This year, the study also included information about four specific strategies that could help improve the outlook for accomplishing that.

Click the highlighted text to read the 2022 Hamilton County Housing Study (and its Data Supplement) and learn more about Community Land Trusts, Housing Trust Funds, Public-Private-Philanthropic Partnerships, and Strategies to Increase & Diversify Housing.

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.

It’s (almost) trivia time!

Trivia Night

Registration is open for HAND’s third-annual Trivia Night fundraiser, scheduled for 7-10 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28, at the Embassy Suites in Noblesville.

As in the past, trivia teams test their wits with five rounds of general trivia questions. The top-scoring team will win prizes, of course, and this year we’re also rewarding the team with the most spirit.

We’ll provide a pasta buffet and non-alcoholic beverages, and you can belly up to a cash bar for something stronger.

Where: Embassy Suites Noblesville, 13700 Conference Center Drive South

When: 7-10 p.m. Feb. 28 (doors open at 6)

How much: $200 for a team of eight, $100 for a team of four, or $25 for an individual in search of a team

Everyone also has a chance to “win” silent auction items and score a fabulous raffle prize! (pending license approval) Please note: raffle tickets can only be purchased with cash, checks or debit cards, so come prepared.

All proceeds benefit HAND.

GET TICKETS NOW

Please join us in thanking our event sponsors:

Breathe Easy Hamilton County logo

Contact Andrea Davis to discuss sponsorship opportunities.