Indianapolis to use $7.1M in federal grants to house 500 homeless households

The city of Indianapolis on Tuesday announced it would spend $7.1 million of federal funding on a homeless initiative that should help 500 households find permanent housing.

Using $7 million of Emergency Shelter Grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the city has partnered with Merchants Affordable Housing and the Coalition for Homelessness Prevention and Intervention to rapidly rehouse 500 individuals or families currently experiencing homelessness. Roughly $5.4 million will be spent on 12 months of rental assistance for people experiencing homelessness, $1 million will go to supportive services and up to $700,000 will be spent on administrative costs.

Rapid rehousing is an evidence-based best practice that has been the primary solution for ending homelessness for years, Chelsea Haring-Cozzi, director of CHIP, said Tuesday. It provides short- to medium-term rental assistance and supportive services to help people obtain housing quickly while increasing self-sufficiency. It is offered without pre-conditions, such as employment or sobriety.

Haring-Cozzi said 90% of people housed through rapid-rehousing programs are still sheltered after two years and do not return to homelessness.

The effort has three components: Working with landlords to find apartments, providing rental assistance and connecting people to services, such as employment.

Merchants Affordable Housing will work to identify available apartments units and will also serve as the fiscal agent and has created a separate entity to fulfill those duties.

The funding will serve 350 people or families currently living in non-congregate shelters, especially those at risk of contracting COVID-19 and dying, and 150 unsheltered households that face high barriers to find housing.

“Living unhoused is incompatible with staying healthy and safe in the midst of this public health crisis,” Haring-Cozzi said in written comments. “We have an amazing opportunity to leverage this funding and the dedication of our provider community to secure and support hundreds of households through permanent housing. Creating a rehousing infrastructure with Merchants Affordable Housing will allow our partners to do this work at scale and to build a robust way of expanding inventory, identifying units, and engaging with landlords.”

The funding comes in addition to $2.7 million in CARES Act funding awarded earlier this summer to eight local homeless prevention organizations and the Indy Continuum of Care, and $650,000 that went to Horizon House to expand permanent supportive housing services.

The city also invested in public restrooms and handwashing stations that have been set up around the city and booking hotels for people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic.

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