A new report assessing the effectiveness of township assistance in Marion County found inconsistencies that may play into how and if services are delivered to residents who need them.
Marion County has nine townships, all with their own elected trustee. Offices are set up to provide funding to help residents in an emergency with rental assistance, utilities and other resources.
IU Public Policy’s Center for Research on Inclusion and Social Policy Research Coordinator Kelsie Stringham-Marquis said receiving help from a trustee office can vary.
“It’s designed to help in an emergency, an unforeseen emergency,” Stringham-Marquis said, “but there is a degree of interpretation around that.”
The new study looked at trends from the past decade and found an overall decrease in requests for assistance, despite a consistent need.
Stringham-Marquis said while all townships follow state standards, other undefined policies include how much should be allocated for assistance.
“Then there’s a question, there’s a grey area,” Stringham-Marquis said. “What percentage do we think should be distributed directly to recipients and across the board everybody was under 50 percent.”
Barriers to accessing the funding may include eligibility requirements and awareness. The report recommends better collaboration, education and consistency.
Future research will focus on the experiences of those who have received assistance and those who have been denied.