I-Team 8

Hamilton County spends $3M in rental help for 1,300

WESTFIELD, Ind. (WISH) — In the heart of one of the wealthiest counties in central Indiana, evictions are on the increase. 

On average, renters in Hamilton County that are facing eviction owe more than $5,000 in back rent.

Evictions in Hamilton County are not isolated to one particular city, town or neighborhood. The pain is spread throughout the county.

Danielle Carey Tolan, the Washington Township trustee, she says the federal moratorium has been a blessing for many but delayed the inevitable for others.

“But, most of them have been using all of their savings, all the assistance they can find from their family or friends, and they just don’t know where to turn. Now, they are truly looking at being evicted. They are looking at disconnects. They are looking at their landlords just not renewing leases because of their delinquencies It is a snowball effect,” the township trustee who serves Westfield said.

Surgo Ventures, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., has been tracking back rent and evictions during the pandemic. Surgo says Hamilton County renters carry the largest debt at just over $5,100; it is estimated that 2,790 households owe more than $14 million in back rent.

The Washington Township trustee says renters who owe back rent will have to make arrangements to pay that debt. She and the eight other Hamilton County township trustees are working with the county’s small-claims court to intervene with federal and state rent-assistance money when possible.  

Tolan said, “Let’s collaborate and partner, and let us help them with their overload, and let us come in an help with that transition because we are just plugging the dam, and the dam is going to implode very soon.” 

The Hamilton County rental-assistance program has helped close to 1,300 people, and spent $3 million in the process. They have several million dollars in reserve ready and waiting for those in need. The county’s 2020 population was 344,238.

The Washington Township trustee said, “The biggest concentration is in Noblesville, and the second-largest is myself, here in Westfield, and then Clay (Township), Carmel.”

Plenty of money is set aside in Westfield and the rest of Washington Township for people who are facing eviction, but the trustee says people must fill out paperwork to qualify. 

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