The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority launches a cloud platform that gets ERAP funding to the people who need it most.
Meet the industry's next trailblazer.
“The IERA [Indiana Emergency Rental Assistance] program is a critical housing program that is designed to prevent evictions and promote housing stability for Indiana renters who've experienced a hardship related to the global pandemic,” said Jacob Sipe, Executive Director of the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA). “We are providing housing opportunities, promoting self-sufficiency, and strengthening communities in doing so— three major components of the IHCDA mission statement.”
The IHCDA delivers more than housing assistance programs and services. It delivers safety, stability, and the foundation for many of Indiana’s communities. “We have had the opportunity to know their struggles, support them in their journey, and celebrate their success on a personal level,” said Annette Richard, IT Director at IHCDA. “Historically IHCDA’s work has been face-to-face or locally through sub-grantee programs. When COVID-19 struck, face-to-face was no longer an option.” The idea to provide Salesforce licenses of this type to the state was first prompted by Tracy Barnes, Indiana Office of Technology Chief Information Officer, and adopted by the IHCDA to bring motion to the narrative and life to the mission.
Keeping pace with COVID dynamics requires a new approach.
At the same time, the government released an unprecedented amount of emergency rental assistance (ERA) funding to help combat the pandemic’s economic impact, which had to be distributed against some exceptionally high benchmarks set by the Department of Treasury. The existing infrastructure could not manage and maintain the new volume of vulnerable renters and landlords, therefore presenting a clear objective for IHCDA to achieve. The end result was an incredibly fast-moving timeline that the team had to navigate without a playbook:
- February 2020: early discussions around the potential need for rental assistance started happening and the funding received was part of the CARES Act.
- June 2020: IHCDA was awarded $11 M in CARES funding. “We believed this would be a short term, time bound project. The goal being to get the funding awarded within a few months and stabilize housing for Indiana residents,” Richard continued.
- August 2020: COVID only grew worse over the summer with the Delta variant. IHCDA was awarded another $40 M in CARES funding. “And again, we had to get that money distributed as fast as possible. It was at this point that we began to realize this was going to be a multi-year program.”
- To date: IHCDA has received over $372 M in CARES funding. “The quick-and-easy case management system we stood up at the beginning of the pandemic wouldn’t fit the needs of a long-term effort. The original system could not perform complex calculations or manage quarterly payments to multiple parties.”
And with each new disbursement came an increase of the eligibility pool, a change in guidelines from the Department of Treasury, and an overall heightened level of emotion as the team worked to protect the state’s most vulnerable. “We were already restructuring our business model. Then with these new benchmarks, we also had to change our processes, policies, the pace at which we worked.” said Richard. “We couldn’t just build a replica of our old system. We had to build a system that would streamline the review and approval process, shortening the number of days from application to payment.
That direction was the cloud.