By Natalie James, Coalition Builder
On Wednesday, March 10, 2021, Jacob Sipe, Executive Director of the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, announced that the State of Indiana’s portal for emergency rental and utility assistance is now open at IndianaHousingNow.org. The Indiana Emergency Rental Assistance program (IERA) will provide rent and utility assistance to eligible Hoosier families using $372 million of $448 million allocated to Indiana from Congressional COVID-19 relief passed by Congress in December 2020. The remaining $76 million will be administered by six city and county-based programs (see below).
One of the biggest questions is: who qualifies for rental assistance from the IERA? An eligible household under the IERA as defined by the U.S. Treasury includes renter households in which one or more people: qualifies for unemployment or has experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19; demonstrates a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability; has a household income at or below 80% of area median income (two-person household: $46,250; four-person household: $57,850; six-person household: $67,100).
This program is designed to assist households that are unable to pay rent and utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible renter households can receive up to 12 months of rental assistance and utility/home energy assistance. This includes a combination of past due rent incurred since April 1, 2020, and future months of rental assistance. The person filling out the application will be considered the head of household.
Utility assistance is also available for those eligible for the IERA program. As long as the utility is in the name of one of the tenants listed on the lease and the utility is not paid as part of the monthly rental payment, the applicant may receive utility assistance. Internet assistance is also available, with additional eligibility requirements outlined in the application.
Renters, housing providers, and community-based organizations can find more information at IndianaHousingNow.org in English and Spanish, including application materials, frequently asked questions, and assistance examples. The site also links to other resources for foreclosure prevention and consumer protection, home repair or modification, senior housing, housing for persons with disabilities, shelters, and fair housing.
Renter applicants must meet all of the above requirements in order to be considered for rental assistance. While landlord participation is not required in order for a renter to receive assistance, IHCDA will attempt to work with landlords to verify amounts due and to issue payments. For more information, visit the application portal. For assistance submitting the application call 211.
In addition to IERA, six Indiana cities and counties have received funding and will administer separate programs. These six areas include Elkhart County, Marion County, Hamilton County, St. Joseph County, City of Fort Wayne, and Lake County. Renter households living in these six areas MUST apply through their LOCAL PROGRAM and are NOT ELIGIBLE to apply for the IERA program administered by IHCDA.
The state program, through IHCDA, will cover all areas in the state that do not have a local government receiving separate funds to distribute rental assistance.