10K Indianapolis residents rushed to apply for rental assistance; others didn’t know about program

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The city suspended its $15 million Rental Assistance Program after receiving more than 10,000 applications in three days.

The CARES Act-funded program provides up to 90 days of paid rent for eligible Marion County tenants affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

It launched Monday and was overwhelmed with applications by Wednesday evening. Further applications will not be accepted until city workers process the initial influx of filings.

Processing is anticipated to take more than a week, the city said Thursday in an emailed statement.

Residents can submit their contact information and request to be notified when the program resumes.

“As more residents seek to take advantage of this opportunity, we will be assessing how we can further maximize this funding,” Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said.

Andrew Bradley, policy director at Prosperity Indiana, said he was “not surprised at all” by the high volume of applications for local rental assistance.

“Over a quarter-million Hoosier families need assistance by September,” he said, citing data from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

The state runs a separate $25 million rental assistance program for residents of Indiana’s other counties. (Marion County residents are not eligible to apply).

The statewide program had received more than 12,500 applications by Thursday morning, according to the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority.

The 22,500 applications for the state and city programs accounted for approximately one-tenth of the Indiana households estimated to need help making rent.

“The people who applied are the ones who have the greatest access to information and to resources to get them to the front of the line,” Bradley said.

He said language barriers and lack of home Internet access forced some of the city’s neediest residents to the “back of the line.”

Aaron Pope, an Indianapolis resident who returned from overseas Navy service in November, said he was not aware of the Rental Assistance Program.

He quit his Amazon job in March to care for his 2-year-old son after his daycare closed, he said.

“I’m staying with my grandparents… and they’ve been helping me a lot,” Pope told News 8. “It’s been hard trying to find employment right now.”

Between searching for jobs with more flexible hours, caring for his son and helping his grandparents, he said he missed news updates about how to apply for rental aid.

He would not have been eligible for the city’s program because he voluntarily left his job, but said he was interested in more information about pandemic relief.

“Get that information, door to door, to the people who need it most,” Bradley said.

He called for additional federal funding to help Hoosiers like Pope whether the worsening pandemic.

He also urged Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb to extend the statewide moratorium on evictions set to end July 31.

“This is the absolute wrong time to be ending an eviction moratorium when it’s clear what we have doesn’t meet the demand yet,” Bradley said. “The last thing we need during a worsening pandemic is families being put out on the street, forced to couch surf and perhaps extending and bringing additional COVID cases everywhere that they go.”