HAND extends reach to neighboring county


By Rick Morwick

For the first time in its 15-year history, Noblesville-based HAND Inc. is reaching outside of Hamilton County to create affordable housing options for low-income residents.

HAND – Hamilton County Area Neighborhood Development – is investing more than $2 million in Lebanon in Boone County to acquire 17 duplexes, which will be renovated and transformed into affordable apartments. The rental community will have 33 leasable units on two cul-de-sacs, along with an office for property manager Mark III and a community room open to all residents.

HAND, a nonprofit that addresses housing needs of low- and moderate-income people, families and senior citizens in Indianapolis suburbs, is branching into Boone County to serve a need, according to HAND’s Outreach and Fundraising Manager Andrea Muirragui Davis.

“We know that other suburban communities are facing the same challenges as Hamilton County,” Muirragui Davis said. “Housing costs are rising as the population grows, making it difficult for folks with modest incomes to afford to live in those communities. After 15 years of developing apartments from the ground up, and remodeling three abandoned buildings, HAND wanted to acquire an older property in need of investment in order to keep it affordable for residents.”

The Lebanon duplexes, called Hickory Commons, were built in the 1950s. The renovation project, with funding from the Indiana Housing Community Development Authority and a private loan from Lake City Bank, is expected to take about a year and will not displace residents.

Because of its proximity to Hamilton County and the rising need for affordable housing options, Boone County was a natural place for HAND to extend its reach, Muirragui Davis said.

“Boone County also is experiencing the rapid population growth that drives housing costs up, so it has similar challenges (to Hamilton County),” Muirragui Davis said. “Geography also is a factor, given the proximity to HAND’s existing operations in Hamilton County.”

HAND’s Boone County project likely won’t be its last outside of Hamilton County.

“HAND is always looking for opportunities to address the housing needs of low- and moderate-income individuals and families, whether it is in Hamilton County or elsewhere,” Muirragui Davis said. “Although Marion County has a wealth of organizations tackling this issue, HAND is one of very few nonprofits working on housing issues in the suburbs.”