City working to reduce rent-relief waiting list of 25,000

The city of Indianapolis is ramping up its COVID-19 rental assistance program with plans to process about 1,000 applications a day while the funding lasts.

As of Wednesday, $22.5 million of the city’s $168 million of Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funds have gone to a rental assistance program that aims to keep Marion County residents from being evicted after falling behind on rent because of pandemic-related income losses. Combined with a contribution from the Lilly Foundation, the fund has grown to $25 million.

The program will pay up to 90 days of rent. The program operates separately of a state fund, which is serving residents in the state’s other 91 counties.

To date, the city has distributed about $6.6 million to 3,390 households, Deputy Mayor Jeff Bennett told reporters Wednesday morning. The average payment is about $1,989.

The process seems to be working better than expected, Bennett said.

Since Saturday, the city has each day moved 1,000 people from a waiting list of about 25,000 to the application process and will continue doing that until the money runs out, he said.

The relief comes after the state’s eviction moratorium expired Aug. 14, leading to hundreds of new eviction filings in Marion County last week.

Advocates have continually warned that a wave of evictions was likely coming, with a report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition estimating that 30 million to 40 million people in America are at risk of being evicted in the next several months. In Indiana, 569,000 to 720,000 people, or up to 313,000 households, could face eviction. That accounts for up to 42% of households.

The state’s program, which had $40 million to dish out, had received 30,000 applications as of last week. The portal to apply closed at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.

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