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Indianapolis renters growing frustrated over city's rental assistance website

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Posted at 6:40 PM, Apr 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-27 23:22:57-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis resident, Tammera Mercer, said she is having issues with the city's Rental Assistance Program.

She explained the website won’t allow her to apply for rental assistance from new rent funds from the second federal COVID relief package.

“There have been so many extraneous expenses associated with COVID,” Mercer said. “So many things have came up.”

She said how after a tough year, “This money would help so much with just building a little bit of savings back up maybe. And being able to kind of dig out of the hole that we got in with COVID.”

Mercer was excited when the City of Indianapolis announced it would reopen applications for their Rental Assistance Program beginning April 5. She was placed on a wait-list at first. Then, it was her chance. She was sent an invitation to apply for rent assistance. She did so and was given a confirmation number.

“From there, it tells you to have to give that number to your landlord or property manager,” she said. “So, when I did that, my property manager called me back and said this isn’t working. It keeps telling me that you’ve not completed the application.”

Not understanding what went wrong, Mercer explained “When I went back, over and over it just kept sending me back to this electronic signature page. Over and over and over. It was just taking me on a loop.”

She said she's tried to apply again at least a dozen times.

“When this started happening to me, I thought, I can’t be the only one.”

She finally emailed the city several times. she said no one ever responded so she called, and was told someone would be calling her back about the issue. But that was a week ago.

“It’s kind of disappointing that people who are put in charge of appropriating this money and making sure that it gets to the right people can’t even return a phone call,” Mercer said. “It’s kind of a real disappointment.”

The city responded and said there was an issue with the technology on the back end and they planned to reach out to tenants directly to fix the problem.

If you are experiencing similar issues, you are encouraged to email INDYRENT@JBNCENTERS.ORG or call 317-912-1260.

You can still apply for rental assistance through this city’s website: indyrent.org.

Eligible households can receive up to three months of assistance, including a combination of back rent dating back to April 1, 2020 (including late fees) or future rent.

The U.S. Department of Treasury has defined eligible recipients as renters who qualify for unemployment or have experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19; demonstrates a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability, and has a household income at or below 80 percent of the area median.

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