More than 30,000 Hoosiers who have fallen behind on rent because of the COVID-19 pandemic have applied for financial assistance from the state — nearly triple the amount Indiana officials originally expected.
State officials from numerous departments, including about 20 National Guard members, are reviewing the applications in an effort to process the huge number of requests, Jacob Sipe, executive director of the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, said Wednesday during Gov. Eric Holcomb’s weekly press briefing.
“Due to the high demand, it may take us about seven days from the time a renter applies until they are contacted by a member of the review team,” Sipe said.
The program, which launched last month, provides up to $500 a week for up to four weeks to renters whose income is lower than it was on March 6 due to the pandemic. The program is open to Hoosiers in every county except Marion, where a separate rental assistance program also opened last month. Payments are made directly to landlords.
More than half of the applications received, or 16,371, came during the first week of the program, Sipe said, according to weekly tallies he presented for the first five weeks of the program, through Aug. 16.
“Since then, we have received about 3,000 to 4,000 applications a week,” he said.
In June, Holcomb announced that $25 million of the state’s federal Coronavirus Relief Funds would be used to establish the rental assistance program. He said the funds were projected to cover about 12,000 households.
On Aug. 5, Holcomb said he would add $15 million to the program to help the continuing number of Hoosiers seeking rental assistance.
To be eligible for assistance, an individual must be able to show a loss of income from an involuntary job layoff, reduced work hours or reduced pay due to the pandemic. Applicants’ current household income, including unemployment benefits, must be less than their household income was on March 6.
A household also is ineligible for the program if it has already received emergency rental assistance during the COVID-19 crisis. Individuals won’t qualify if they are already receiving rental assistance through Section 8 vouchers or U.S. Department of Agriculture assistance.
A renter’s landlord must also agree to participate in the program. Payments are made directly to the landlord, who must agree not to evict the tenant until he or she is at least 45 days delinquent.