INDIANAPOLIS — A state fund providing housing assistance to Hoosiers hit by February floods has nearly run dry due to the widespread scope of the disasters, officials said.
About 143 Indiana families were displaced by the floods produced by sustained rainfall. The families received housing assistance through a $150,000 disaster assistance fund administered by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority.
“It has been many years since we’ve seen numbers this high,” IHCDA Deputy Executive Director Matt Rayburn said. “The last disaster assistance program we ran in 2016 was with the Kokomo tornado and we helped about 20 or 30 households.”
He added, “Based on these 143 households, I am estimating we are going to get close to using that full $150,000 that’s in the budget just on this disaster recovery.”
The budget could be amended if the coming tornado season or other weather troubles produce more calls for disaster assistance, he said.
The agency budgets money in the disaster assistance fund each year toward relief efforts. However, funds are limited and changes need approval by the IHCDA board, said Brad Meadows, IHCDA marketing and communications director. The funds usually come from the agency’s general fund.
In response to widespread flooding and infrastructure damage, Gov. Eric Holcomb announced disaster declarations for 35 counties.
The disaster declaration means the Indiana Department of Homeland Security can take necessary actions to provide expanded emergency services. It is a step the state is required to take to request assistance from the federal government.
Indiana typically combines agencies into a one-stop shop for Hoosiers who need emergency help with resources ranging from mental health counseling to providing birth certificates and other documents lost in the floods. The IHCDA handles rental assistance and short-term hotel vouchers.
One-stop shops were set up in the four hardest hit cities: Demotte in Jasper County; Elkhart in Elkhart County; Lake Station in Lake County; and Utica in Clark County. The IHCDA also assisted South Bend families in St. Joseph County.
Of 143 displaced households assisted by the program, 79 were in Elkhart, Rayburn said.
In Elkhart, 55 households received hotel vouchers and 24 received rental assistance.
Utica had 21 total households assisted as did Lake Station; DeMotte had 14 and South Bend had eight.
Some Elkhart residents lived in older homes near the St. Joseph River and water stood six feet deep in basements. Pumping the water out was difficult, resulting in more vouchers than in other cities, Rayburn said.