Marion County’s IndyRent program has begun accepting applications for up to 12 months of rental assistance, Mayor Joe Hogsett’s administration announced Wednesday. The long-awaited move adds nine months of help to the program, which previously maxed out at three months.
“I’m very proud of our program, and I’m grateful for what the city and its partners have been able to accomplish,” Hogsett said at a monthly news conference Wednesday. “But the need is still great.”
The change has been in the works for several months. This fall, Indianapolis landed $91.4 million in rental assistance funds originally allocated to Indiana—which wasn’t on track to meet federal deadlines for assigning and spending the money. Local officials began discussions with the state over the summer, according to Jeff Bennett, deputy mayor of community development.
Now, Indianapolis is starting to tap into those funds.
“One of the biggest benefits of those funds from the state is that it enables us to provide the full 12 months of assistance that Congress authorized in CARES Act II,” Bennett told reporters Wednesday.
Beginning last Friday, new applicants can request up to 12 months of help for rent going back to April 1, 2020, or for upcoming rent payments, he said. The network of not-for-profits administering the program has also started contacting thousands of previous recipients to invite them to apply for additional support. For example, a household with two months of rent help under its belt would be able to ask for another 10.
As of Tuesday, IndyRent has pushed out about $70.7 million in rent payments to landlords of 30,000-plus households seeking rental assistance, according to Bennett. The program is averaging about $5.5 million in payments a month.
IndyRent also aims to have staff at the township small claims courts where eviction cases are heard, Bennett said, to help tenants facing eviction apply for help. Eventually, the courts could have processing locations for the program, he said.
Already, “tenant advocates” for renters with no legal representation are stationed in seven of the nine township sites, excluding Franklin and Perry townships, as part of a yearlong pilot.