Kokomo fighting housing shortage to find homes for flood victims

The county is getting creative with how to meet housing needs.
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Although the flood waters in central Indiana have receded, new problems are rising. But an intense effort is turning a housing shortage into new possibilities for those needing shelter the most.

There are a lot of homes along the Wildcat Creek in Kokomo with piles of trash. In the meantime, the residents are homeless searching and waiting for a place to live.

"We're kind of desperate right now to find a place to live," said Lori Long.

Lori is pregnant, scared and now homeless. She is one of more than 100 people who had to evacuate after this weekend's flood in Kokomo.

"I'm just scared and nervous and hoping we can find some help somewhere from somebody," said Lori.

"We're in some very serious needs, but the crisis is being handled," said Abbie Smith, Director of the United Way of Howard County.

Abbie Smith is the president of the United Way of Howard County. She says a shortage in emergency housing has long been a need in Howard County. But this latest crisis creates an even bigger emergency.

"We have about 12 people that are in very temporary situations. Probably Sunday or Monday, we're going to have to have another option for them. We're working on that," she said.

"We have a pretty good market for rental properties," said Paul Wyman, Howard County Commission.

Paul Wyman is a Howard County Commissioner and a local realtor. The county is getting creative with how to meet housing needs.

"We're also talking to people who have homes that are for sale that are vacant and asking them if they're willing to pitch in for one, two, three, four months during this period to help people get some housing as well," said Wyman.

Low-income housing isn't much of an option. It's 98 percent full. Plans for building more housing are in the works as part of a long term plan.

In addition to building more housing, there's also focus on eliminating the problem. The city has started tearing down homes in danger of flooding. But they have a long way to go.

"I think long-term, the plan is good and sound. It's just always unfortunate when an incident like this happens in the middle of the plan," said Wyman.

That is only little consolation to Lori Long, who's just trying to hang on.

"It's pretty bad," said Long.

A lot of work is going on behind the scenes to help folks clean up, move on and get that housing they need. But they can't provide that assistance if they don't know you need it. The number is 211 and it will tap you in to all of the resources you need to get back on stable ground.

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