State offers aid to renters, warns young Hoosiers

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Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb today announced the creation of a program that aims to help Hoosiers struggling to pay their rent due to repercussions from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Indiana COVID-19 Rental Assistance Program, which will use $25 million in federal CARES Act funding, will provide eligible applicants up to $500 in rental assistance per month for four months, totaling a maximum assistance of $2,000 per household.

To be eligible, renters must have lost all or part of their income due to the pandemic and not have received rental assistance from another source. They must also be able to prove their current household income, including unemployment, is less than their household income as of March 6.

Assistance is available to residents in 91 of Indiana’s 92 counties: Marion County will administer its own program with other CARES Act funds, which total $15 million.

However, the program requires a landlord agree to participate in the program. Should a Hoosier meet all of the requirements listed, yet their landlord does not agree to participate in the program, the renter will not be eligible for the program, said Jacob Sipe, director of the Housing & Community Development Authority.

Holcomb

By agreeing to participate in the program, landlords, by extension, will agree not to evict a resident for nonpayment until the renter is more than 45 days late on rent.

“This has been a very challenging time for Hoosiers, and the economic impacts of COVID-19 has left some renters in a tough spot,” Holcomb stated. “The Indiana COVID-19 Rental Assistance Program will support our renters, improve our state’s housing stability and help prevent evictions as the state gets back on track.”

State officials estimated that approximately 12,000 Indiana households could be helped. Payments will be made directly to landlords.

Applications for the program will be accepted online beginning 9 a.m. July 13 at www.indianahousingnow.org.

State officials warn young Hoosiers

State officials said Indiana’s guiding principles for reopening the state’s economy are holding steady, though the number of positive cases of COVID-19 in Hoosiers age 29 and younger are rising.

Box

Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said the share of COVID-19 cases in the state for those 29 and younger were close to 12 percent in March. As of press time, the statewide share of COVID-19 cases for the age group has jumped to 21.2 percent. At times, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said, the share has hovered close to 30 percent.

State officials said the reason for the increase might be due to a lack of caution in the age group. They said younger Hoosiers may not be as diligent about social distancing, wearing masks or washing their hands. Expanding on the possibility, Holcomb asked young Indiana residents to stay diligent to continue to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

“I don’t want us to let our guard down,” Holcomb said. “That shift to the younger generation, those folks who are feeling fearless or invincible or that they can play right through – the point is that it’s still affecting the older generation. We still lost too many Hoosiers during this all.

“I’m only point this out because we are on track and we remain on track and our economy is coming back. Folks are going back to work. We are starting to see people get their livelihoods come back, and I don’t want us to let our guard down, especially as we see that shift occur.”

To date, the state has progressed as scheduled through its reopening plan, though Marion, Lake and Cass counties lagged behind by a week due to a higher number of cases. Most of Indiana is set to enter the final phase of its reopening plan, Stage 5, beginning July 4, as of press time. During Stage 5, most businesses and attractions will be allowed to open, if they choose, at full capacity as long as they adhere to social-distancing and sanitary standards.

Regenstrief Institute, a research institute based in Indianapolis, analyzed state hospital data and found 41,611 distinct COVID-19 positive tests since March 1, a total that does not include all positive tests reported directly to the Indiana State Health Dept. The institute found 10,548 (25 percent) of the positive patients visited an emergency room and 6,819 positive cases (16 percent) had been hospitalized – both less than last week. Of the positive cases hospitalized, 1,452 (21 percent) were admitted to an intensive care unit, roughly 4 percent of all positive cases.

In total, the institute found 73 percent of hospitalized COVID-19 patients were discharged; 8 percent were likely still hospitalized and 19 percent had died. The institute estimated the number of recovered patients climbed to 76 percent, compared to its estimate of 73 percent a week ago.

“The fact that we are holding steady, or even seeing slight declines in our hospitalization data is encouraging as we continue to reopen,” Box said. “It also illustrates the importance of continuing to wear a mask, social distancing and washing your hands.

“I think it’s our younger adults that feel invincible and so they don’t social distance as well. They go to the bars. They go to the clubs together. They may not be wearing their masks, or if they do wear them early in the evening, they come off later in the evening. And it’s really not what’s going to happen to them necessarily: It’s the individuals that they take that infection home to that could be an issue going forward (and) may put more people in the hospital with grandma and grandpa or mom or dad or other individuals with co-morbidities. “

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