ANDERSON, Ind. — When Erika Morgan moved back to Anderson in January along with her eight children, she was living with her sister.
Morgan, 34, now lives in a three-bedroom house through the Tenant Based Rent Assistance program administered by the Anderson Community Development Department.
For three months, Morgan has received $520 per month toward the $775 monthly rent for the house.
Morgan has been on disability for several years after working for the U.S. Postal Service and has an annual income of $20,000.
“I’ve always had my own home … it’s just harder with the kids when you’re a single parent with no help,” she said.
Morgan applied for the program through the Anderson Township Trustee’s Office and, in addition to the rent assistance, the program paid the security and utility deposits.
The Anderson Housing Authority is the designated agency through the Community Development Department and works with the Trustee’s Office, United Way of Madison County and Alternatives Inc. to find housing for homeless families.
Unlike Morgan, some of the people receiving assistance had been sleeping in cars or families were separated because shelters don’t house men and women at the same locations.
Morgan said it won’t be a problem to keep the house once the rental assistance ends in April.
“The first house I looked at, the Anderson Housing Authority said it was too expensive,” she said. “With the amount of children that I have, my funds don’t last as long as for someone with not as many kids.”
There were 10 children in her sister’s house and four adults before Morgan was approved for the program.
“The assistance is helpful,” she said. “Either way you have to maintain for your children. I’ll be on my own next month so it won’t be a big deal.
“I was able to do Easter yesterday and my kids have never gotten that,” Morgan said. “I had Valentine’s Day and birthdays which they have not gotten before. It’s always about the kids.”
Morgan said she wasn’t disappointed that she received three months’ rental help instead of the maximum six months, noting that other people are in need of help.
“I think it’s a good program as long as people use it like I did,” she said. “I’m thankful for Trustee John Bostic because he made it possible to get out of my sister’s home and into my own.”
Lelia Kelley, director of the Community Development Department, said the city is using $145,000 in federal Home Program funds to finance the program.
“The assistance can go up to 12 months,” she said. “A person can’t have been convicted of a violent crime or sex offense to be eligible.
“The mayor challenged our office to find a more effective way to help the homeless,” Kelley said. “We wanted to find a program partner that had the experience to work with landlords and capable of doing housing inspections. The Anderson Housing Authority was a natural fit.”
The program includes counseling to families in the program for job training and financial management.
“We’re trying to move people out of the causes of homelessness,” Kelley said. “We’re providing support services so they will be able to maintain a place to stay.”
Since the program started last October, 10 families have been placed in housing and two are looking for places to stay.
Kelley said the rent can’t amount to more than 30 percent of a family’s income to be eligible for the assistance.
Mayor Thomas Broderick Jr. said the program is working to identify people who are need of assistance and to help them find employment.
“It’s a team effort,” he said. “The referring agencies work with the participants and landlords in the search for an affordable home.”
Anderson Township Trustee John Bostic said people walk into his office on a daily basis with no place to stay.
“We don’t put people in hotels because it only lasts a few days and then they are homeless again,” he said. “We want to help place people in homes that they can afford to live in on a long-term basis.”
Bostic said most people have some income that can be applied to rent.
“They can be terminated if they don’t pay their part of the rent,” he said. “We can help with furniture and food. We do whatever we can to help make them successful.”
Source: The (Anderson) Herald Bulletin, https://bit.ly/2GCeepb
Information from: The Herald Bulletin, http://www.theheraldbulletin.com
This is an AP-Indiana Exchange story offered by The (Anderson) Herald Bulletin.