INDIANAPOLIS – A new report from the Center for Research on Inclusion and Social Policy takes a closer look at township assistance programs across Marion County, Indiana. Township assistance benefits in Indiana often serve as a form of cash-based assistance for those in emergency situations. While all townships in Indiana follow state guidelines, individual trustees have different interpretations of those guidelines. That can result in differences in how township assistance is administered.
CRISP analysts found that requests for township assistance dropped in most townships from 2011 to 2019. Only Franklin and Lawrence townships experienced more requests during this time, with Lawrence seeing a 51% increase in the past nine years. Perry Township saw the largest decline in requests during that same time, dropping 83%.
However, data shows that Perry Township more than doubled the value of the benefits it provided to residents, increasing the monetary amount distributed by 121%. Franklin, Warren, and Wayne townships also increased the value of benefits they provided. The amount of assistance distributed in Pike, Washington, Lawrence, Center, and Decatur townships fell from 2011 to 2019.
Overall, in Marion County, the most common forms of township assistance were housing and utility help. Those two areas also represented the highest dollar amount for distributed assistance. In 2019, there were 2,216 requests for utility assistance, 1,600 for housing help, 496 for food assistance, and 10 requests for health care support. That same year, townships distributed a total of $907,885 for utility assistance, $1,437,271 for housing assistance, $20,691 for food assistance, and $3,487 for health care support.
After reviewing the data and interviewing representatives from five of Marion County’s nine township trustee offices, analysts at CRISP developed five recommendations on how Indiana’s township assistance system should move forward to better serve Hoosiers in need:
- Assess barriers for those seeking assistance.
- Advertise assistance and eligibility criteria more widely.
- Increase collaboration and consistency among townships.
- Revisit education and training for township assistance staff.
- Reexamine decision-making thresholds for administering assistance.
To find more specific township-level information and data on the number of people and households receiving assistance, read the entire report at the link below.