FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 25, 2022
Contact: Andrew Bradley | (317) 222-1221 x403 | firstname.lastname@example.org
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – In a recently released report, Tenant Protections: An Impact Analysis, the Student Policy Network at the University of Notre Dame examines policies in Indiana aimed at providing additional security for tenants and the health and economic impacts of these policies. In conjunction with Prosperity Indiana and the Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition, the Student Policy Network hosted an event outlining the findings of the report on April 20, 2022.
"My team, as part of the Notre Dame Student Policy Network, took a semester-long dive into the impacts of proposed tenant protections throughout Indiana. Identifying a lop-sided policy outlook in favor of landlords, we used health data, state comparisons, and advocate interviews to qualify the need for further tenant-focused legislation and recommend specific policy implementation. We hope our findings can be used by policymakers, advocates, and community developers to better understand the issues at hand in Indiana's housing market, and find equitable solutions," said Thomas Musgrave, Project Lead of the Notre Dame Student Policy Network.
According to the report, “Low-income tenants are consistently underrepresented in legislative debate; we aim to voice the concerns of these Hoosiers, while considering the effects of our proposed legislation on landlords, the state, the judiciary, and the overarching housing market.”
Analysis of recent legislation includes SB 230, enforcement of habitability standards (Sen. Fady Quaddora (D-Indianapolis) and Sen. Greg Walker (R-Columbus)), and HB 1214, residential eviction actions including sealing and expungement, (Rep. Ethan Manning (R-Denver), Rep. Chris Jeter (R-Fishers), Rep. Edward Clere (R-New Albany), and Rep. Vernon Smith (D-Gary)). SB230 was sent for consideration of an interim study committee while HB1214 was passed and signed into law by Governor Holcomb this session.
When compared to other states, tenants in Indiana are limited in ensuring basic habitability standards, and lack necessary legal support in fighting eviction and removing evictions from their record, which has devastating impacts on the most vulnerable Hoosiers. With adverse health effects, social immobility, cyclical poverty, and increased state costs directly associated with current tenant-landlord policies, the report advocates that changes must be made to create a safer, more equitable, and more fiscally responsible Indiana.
Read the full report here. View the presentation slides here.
View the report release event here.
About Prosperity Indiana
The Indiana Association for Community Economic Development d/b/a Prosperity Indiana builds a better future for our communities by providing advocacy, leveraging resources, and engaging an empowered network of members to create inclusive opportunities that build assets and improve lives. Since its founding in 1986, Prosperity Indiana’s network has grown to nearly 200 organizations, representing thousands of practitioners statewide from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.
About the Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition
The HHNC Steering Committee is comprised of members from AARP Indiana, the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention & Prevention (CHIP), Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana, Family Promise of Greater Indianapolis, Hoosier Action, Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Indiana Community Action Poverty Institute – INCAA, Indiana University McKinney School of Law, Prosperity Indiana, The Ross Foundation, and United Way of Central Indiana.
April 22, 2022
INDIANAPOLIS, IN –The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes, a new report released today by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) and Prosperity Indiana, finds a national shortage of seven million affordable and available rental homes for the lowest-income households. There are just 36 affordable and available rental homes for every 100 of the lowest-income renter households nationwide. Seventy-one percent of the poorest renter households are severely housing cost-burdened, spending more than half of their incomes on housing, with little left over for other basic necessities. The pandemic has only made things worse. Long-term federal investments are needed to combat this housing crisis for the lowest-income renters. Every year, The Gap reports on the severe shortage of affordable rental homes available to extremely low-income families and individuals.
“Sadly, Indiana now has the single highest housing cost burden among all Midwest states for the lowest-income residents. Compounding this concern is the fact that our state continues to have one of the smallest rates of affordable and available rental units. This lack of affordable housing stock is putting increasing pressure on families struggling to pay their bills and move up the economic ladder,” said Prosperity Indiana Executive Director Jessica Love.
Indiana has 38 affordable and available rental homes for every 100 households with extremely low incomes, tied for the fourth-lowest rate in the Midwest and 20th-lowest among all states. Facing a shortage in Indiana of 135,033 affordable and available rental homes, 72 percent of these Hoosier renters are severely housing cost-burdened, the highest rate of severe housing cost burden in the Midwest and 13th-highest in the nation.
Love said, “To relieve the pressures being caused by the state’s high housing costs and limited availability, Indiana policymakers must tackle this issue through both increased resources and better public policy. We need to see greater investment in the production of affordable housing for the Hoosiers who need it most, as well as stronger habitability standards and tenant protections to improve housing stability and affordability throughout the state.”
The shortage of affordable housing in Indiana affects rural, urban, and suburban counties alike. In no Indiana county is the supply of affordable and available units enough on average for the number of extremely low-income Hoosier households living in that county. According to the most recent HUD Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy (CHAS) data1, 51 of Indiana’s 92 counties have a lower rate of affordable and available units than the statewide average identified in The Gap 2022 report. These range from a high of 80 units for every 100 extremely low-income households in Crawford County to a low of only 8 units for every 100 households in need in Tipton County. Similarly, Indiana’s Midwest-leading severe housing cost burden for the lowest-income households extends throughout the state, ranging from 29 percent of extremely low-income households spending half or more of their incomes on housing in Pike County to 89 percent in Tippecanoe County.
The report shows how these lowest-income renters were uniquely positioned to suffer disproportionately from the effects of lost income and housing insecurity during the pandemic.
Although the federal government took unprecedented actions to protect the lowest-income renters, the government’s actions were temporary. Most eviction moratoriums have been lifted and resources, such as federal emergency rental assistance, are running out. Longer-term federal investments in affordable housing are needed to combat the underlying shortage of affordable housing that exposed so many of these lowest-income renters to housing instability in the first place.
“The pandemic has made plain our nation’s lack of a housing safety net,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel. “It is time to invest in long-term housing policies that will finally address the systemic shortage of affordable housing and provide housing stability for the lowest-income families.”
NLIHC and Prosperity Indiana both advocate for the adoption of federal legislation to increase housing stability and security.
For additional information, visit: https://nlihc.org/gap
About the National Low Income Housing Coalition
The National Low Income Housing Coalition is dedicated to achieving racially and socially equitable public policy that ensures people with the lowest incomes have quality homes that are accessible and affordable in the communities of their choice. NLIHC educates, organizes, and advocates to ensure decent, affordable housing for everyone. For more information about NLIHC, please visit www.nlihc.org.
Although the 2022 session of the Indiana General Assembly was a ‘short session’ in a non-budget year lasting only nine weeks, legislation that passed (and failed) has the potential for long-lasting impact for Prosperity Indiana members and the state’s community economic development sector. PI member involvement this session helped pass legislation that will seal eviction filing records, secure $150 million in affordable housing state tax credits, and prevent the expansion of predatory small loans statewide.
Following the feedback of members who told us that the pandemic continues to disproportionately affect vulnerable Hoosiers in their communities and strain their capacity to serve them, PI sought to respond to these short-term critical needs while building resources and policy structures to strengthen Indiana’s communities in the long term. Our 2022 Policy Agenda: Rebuilding Stronger, More Equitable Indiana Communities focused on opportunities to rebuild communities through recovery efforts for the hardest-hit Hoosiers; strengthening the infrastructure of resources for the state’s community economic development sector; and permanently improving the lives of Hoosiers long neglected by public policies.
Throughout the session, Prosperity Indiana members stepped up to act on these priorities. Members took center stage when we unveiled our agenda in a live event with legislators before the session, drove hundreds of miles to participate in PI’s Statehouse Day in January and testify before committees, and made countless calls and emails to legislators over the short session to explain how PI’s priority legislation would help them serve Indiana’s communities. Here are the results of those efforts and the outcomes of the legislation most directly tied to PI’s agenda:
HB 1214: Residential eviction actions (Rep. Ethan Manning) included a provision that will seal eviction filing records when the case doesn’t go to court or is found in the tenant’s favor. This provision has been a top PI agenda item and a priority of the PI-convened Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition (HHNC) for the past two sessions. The bill also requires courts to track and compile this data and that all emergency rental assistance programs create a designated landlord application process. PI remains concerned with provisions that require all court-based eviction diversion programs to be voluntary and encourages the legislature to revisit this provision if it does not increase the uptake in such programs. The bill passed with 49-0 votes in the Senate and 91-0 in the House.
HB 1306: Housing task force (Rep. Doug Miller) named the PI-convened Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition to the newly-created Indiana Housing Task Force, which will be charged with reviewing issues related to housing and housing shortages in Indiana and issuing a report to the General Assembly and the Governor by November 1, 2022. The bill passed with 48-0 votes in the Senate and 88-2 in the House.
While SB 230: Enforcement of habitability standards (Sen. Fady Qaddoura) was not granted a hearing in the House after passing the Senate 47-1, the broad bipartisan support provides momentum for interim study of the habitability standards for residential rental units, including the issue of jurisdictional questions. Also regarding habitability enforcement, HB 1048: Sheriff's sale in mortgage foreclosure action (Rep. Sean Eberhart) passed and prevents predatory and negligent landlords, including those from out of state and out of country, from buying foreclosed property in online sheriffs’ sales. The final votes on HB 1048 were 50-0 in the Senate and 87-3 in the House.
SB 382: Various tax matters (Sen. Travis Holdman) included provisions originally in SB 262 (Sen. Travis Holdman) providing up to $30 million annually over five years in affordable and workforce housing state tax credits, for a total of up to $150 million. PI testified in favor of this provision in committee and supported the bill that has been considered in various versions since first introduced five years ago. SB 382 passed with 38-12 votes in the Senate and 66-32 in the House.
The provisions of SB 292: Land banks (Sen. Tim Lanane) that would have required counties to provide a list of eligible properties to land banks, as well as an optional transfer of those properties, were added to SB 62: Sale of tax sale properties to nonprofits (Sen. Michael Young) during conference committee in the last week of session. However, due to disagreements in caucus that were not made public, SB 292 language was stripped out of the conference committee report, and SB 62 passed without them. The final votes on SB 62 were 50-0 in the Senate and 91-2 in the House. Despite this setback, look for broader recommendations from PI’s Land Bank Incubator Scholarship team to be introduced next session.
Despite broad bipartisan support, committees did not hear HB 1159 (Rep. Carey Hamilton) or SB 253 (Sen. Ron Alting) ‘Small loan finance charges’ that would have capped payday APRs at 36%. However, Hoosier consumers were protected from an expansion of predatory lending when the House refused to hear SB 352: Supervised consumer loans after it passed the Senate by a narrow margin. As the PI co-convened Hoosiers for Responsible Lending (HRL) stated, SB 352 would have “drastically change[d] subprime, high-cost installment lending across Indiana by increasing the finance charges and fees, compared to current law, [allowing] lenders to aggressively push borrowers to refinance these installment loans as often as possible.” Prosperity Indiana and HRL are committed to working with legislators before next session on solutions and alternatives that provide equitable and responsible access to credit.
Beyond these agenda priority bills, Prosperity Indiana tracks a wide array of legislation impacting the community economic development sector. See the final outcomes for all of the bills we tracked during the 2022 session:
Thanks again to all Prosperity Indiana members and coalition partners who advocated for our priorities this session and helped secure several key victories that will have a positive impact for Indiana’s communities over the long term. If you are new to PI, please sign up for email and action alerts to keep up to date with policy and advocacy efforts throughout the year.
Contact: Andrew Bradley | (317) 222-1221 x403 | email@example.com
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – Prosperity Indiana applauds the U.S. House of Representatives for voting today to approve the Build Back Better Act, a $1.75 trillion economic recovery package that includes historic investments in community economic development. With today’s vote, Congress is one step closer to enacting this legislation critical for an equitable recovery for Indiana’s communities. Of Indiana’s House Delegation, Representatives André D. Carson (D-IN-7) and Frank J. Mrvan (D-IN-1) joined the majority in voting for the bill, which next heads to the Senate for final approval.
“Prosperity Indiana thanks Rep. Mrvan and Rep. Carson for voting to approve the historic investments in affordable housing and community economic development in the Build Back Better Act,” said Executive Director Jessica Love. “These investments will help strengthen Indiana’s communities by making housing more stable, affordable, and available, and reinforcing an equitable recovery by increasing economic opportunities for low-income Hoosiers as well.”
The legislation includes robust funding for the Opportunity Starts at Home-Indiana campaign’s top priorities: $25 billion to expand rental assistance to over 300,000 households; $65 billion to preserve the nation’s deteriorating public housing infrastructure; and $15 billion for the national Housing Trust Fund to build and preserve over 150,000 affordable, accessible homes for households with the lowest incomes.
In addition, the Build Back Better Act passed by the House includes key investments to expand the stock of affordable housing, increase homeownership, and make housing more fair and affordable, including: $10 billion for the HOME Investment Partnership Program First-Generation Downpayment Assistance, $750 million in new funding for the Housing Investment Fund, part of the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund to provide competitive grants to CDFIs and nonprofit developers. The legislation also supports low income housing tax credits through $740 million in grants to nonprofits to develop, preserve, or rehabilitate housing; $1.2 billion for Section 24 grants to improve affordable housing units’ health, safety, climate, and disaster resilience; $1.7 billion to increase the energy efficiency of units; and $1.5 billion to keep at-risk projects viable. The bill also includes the provisions of the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act, originally co-authored by Senator Todd Young (R-IN).
The Build Back Better Act also advances community economic development for Indiana with investments that increase asset-building, shrink wealth gaps, and expand equitable economic opportunities. This includes expanding the Child Tax Credit to more than 35 million households nationwide, expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit for 17 million low-wage workers, and helping Hoosier families meet everyday challenges through increased childcare and universal pre-K, making college more affordable, and increasing paid leave.
Love said, “Prosperity Indiana urges Indiana’s Senators to do everything in their power to ensure these vital affordable housing and community economic development investments are promptly passed by the Senate, so that they can quickly help strengthen Indiana’s communities and improve Hoosiers’ lives.”
Indiana Association for Community Economic Development d/b/a Prosperity Indiana builds a better future for our communities by providing advocacy, leveraging resources and engaging an empowered network of members to create inclusive opportunities that build assets and improve lives. Since its founding in 1986, Prosperity Indiana has grown to nearly 200 members from the public, private and nonprofit sectors.
For Immediate Release
November 18, 2021
Contact: Natalie James, (317) 222-1221 ext.406, firstname.lastname@example.org
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – Hoosiers for Responsible Lending applauds the introduction of the Veterans and Consumers Fair Credit Act of 2021 in the U.S. House of Representatives. This legislation would extend the 36 percent APR interest rate cap on payday and car title loans in the Military Lending Act (MLA) to cover all citizens.
The bipartisan House bill was introduced on November 17 and would achieve a major policy goal of Hoosiers for Responsible Lending. Among those who introduced the bill, Representative André Carson is an original sponsor for the Veterans and Consumers Fair Credit Act.
“We thank Congressman Carson for supporting this bipartisan legislation that takes an important step toward eliminating predatory lending in Indiana and across the country,” said Andy Nielsen, Senior Policy Analyst with the Indiana Institute for Working Families and HRL member. “High-cost lending in our state traps Hoosiers in a cycle of debt that many struggle to leave, jeopardizing the economic security of individuals and families and the health of our communities. Congress already recognized the need to enact strong interest rate caps that protect our active duty military, and this protection must be extended to all consumers.”
View the entire press release here.
Prosperity Indiana joined state and national partners in submitting comments in support of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) proposal to rescind its disastrous 2020 rule for the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA).
Prosperity Indiana is a network of nearly 200 organizations and individuals committed to advancing community economic development statewide. The focus of our efforts is to ensure everyone can enjoy equal economic and social opportunities and live in thriving communities. In carrying out this work, we know how critical CRA is to ensuring that areas and/or projects that would not otherwise receive investment can secure critical capital from banks through loans and investments for affordable housing and economic development. These investments and credit services spark neighborhood revitalization and help more Hoosiers achieve and maintain economic success.
When this rule was being considered in April of 2020, our membership was strongly concerned not only with the timing and short period of public commenting, which came during the very beginning of the COVID-19 public health emergency, but with the content of the rule which our members believed would undermine the purpose of CRA. In the eighteen months that have followed, the serious damage from the ongoing pandemic has only strengthened the weight of those comments.
What’s at stake in Indiana?
Every Indiana community has a stake in strengthening the CRA, from our small towns to growing suburban areas to the core urban areas. This is true from Angola, which saw $130.3 million in mortgages or loans to LMI borrowers or neighborhoods from 2009 through 2018, $0 in business loans to LMI neighborhoods, and $97.2 million in loans to small businesses, to Warsaw with $277 million in mortgages to LMI borrowers or neighborhoods, $36.1 million in business loans to LMI neighborhoods, and $271.4 million in loans to small businesses. And in our state’s largest metro area of Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, which itself spans a large city, a wealthy suburb, and a former industrial center now facing challenges, mortgages to LMI borrowers or neighborhoods totaled $14.2 billion from 2009 through 2018, with $3.9 billion in business loans to LMI neighborhoods, and nearly $4 billion in loans to small business. Indiana’s communities from smallest to largest can’t risk a weakening of the CRA from the rule OCC is rightfully considering rescinding, that would have allowed an increase in discrimination in lending.
Strengthening CRA is a critical component of a just recovery
Indiana communities who have been hardest-hit and are still battling the public health, economic, and housing impacts of COVID-19 are the same who carry the ongoing scars of redlining. The National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) recently released a major report finding significant correlations between redlining and susceptibility to COVID, including Evansville, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Gary and Lake County, Muncie, South Bend, and Terre Haute. In the 1930s, the Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC) commissioned the production of maps that rated neighborhoods based on the risk of lending in them. Working class and minority neighborhoods usually received the riskiest designation of hazardous. The designations subsequently facilitated redlining and discrimination against these neighborhoods, which remain starved of credit and are predominantly lower-income and minority. These neighborhoods also have the highest incidence of health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, kidney disease and stroke, which make residents more susceptible to COVID-19. Life expectancy is almost four years lower in the redlined communities than the neighborhoods not designated as hazardous by HOLC.
In Indiana, the pandemic has disproportionately affected communities of color in additional ways. For example, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s Unemployment Claims Monitor, through October 23, 2021, Black Hoosiers continue to file 27.9% of unemployment insurance claims during the pandemic, although they make up only 9.4% of the labor force.
While we have not seen state-level data about Indiana’s Black-owned businesses, reports from the experiences of our members throughout the state align with nationwide trends showing a disproportionate impact on these businesses. Since the start of the pandemic, more than 440,000 African American businesses (41%) have been closed nationwide, compared to just 17% of White-owned small businesses. Discrimination in lending contributes significantly to racial disparities in small business survival rates. An NCRC investigation found that African American testers applying for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans for their small businesses during the pandemic were likely to receive less information or encouragement to apply than White testers. We do not need state-level data to confirm the impact, and we cannot afford to see the CRA watered down in the meantime. CRA must be strengthened considerably in order to combat discrimination and help our communities recover from the pandemic.
Read the full comments here.
Contact: Natalie James | (317) 222-1221 x406 | email@example.com
Prosperity Indiana Urges Congress to Prioritize Affordable Housing Investments in the Build Back Better Act
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – As Congressional leaders negotiate over the size and scope of the Build Back Better Act, the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s (NLIHC) HoUSed campaign and Prosperity Indiana urge Congress to ensure that any final economic recovery package prioritizes housing investments targeted to serve America’s lowest-income and most marginalized households who face the greatest, clearest needs. The Build Back Better Act must include investments in rental assistance, public housing, and the Housing Trust Fund at the historic levels approved by the House Financial Services Committee and drafted with the Senate Banking Committee.
America is in the grips of an affordable housing crisis, most severely impacting the most marginalized and lowest-income people. Nationally, there is a shortage of 7 million homes affordable and available to the lowest-income renters including a gap of nearly 127,000 units in Indiana alone. While there are proven solutions that can address the affordability crisis, current funding levels from Congress leave three out of four eligible households receiving no assistance at all, which is what brought us to the brink of an eviction tsunami during a global health emergency.
“The spotlight that COVID has shown on the preexisting crisis - the need for better and more affordable housing - makes this long-standing issue undeniable at this point,” said Jessica Love, executive director for Prosperity Indiana. “It’s time now to not only address the immediacy of the moment but to invest into the future of our nation’s families and communities by supporting the myriad of tools available to us to build and preserve affordable housing.”
The National Low Income Housing Coalition’s (NLIHC) HoUSed campaign and Prosperity Indiana urge Congress to enact historic investments in the country’s affordable housing infrastructure, including $90 billion to expand rental assistance to 1 million more households, $80 billion to preserve public housing for more than 2.5 million residents, and $37 billion for the national Housing Trust Fund to build, preserve and rehabilitate 330,000 apartments affordable to the lowest-income people. Any spending cuts to the Build Back Better Act must not come at the expense of these proven solutions to America’s housing crisis.
“There’s never been a moment where there were such transformative investments on the table and there was a real potential to achieve them,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel. “The Build Back Better Act is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to effectively end homelessness – if done right. Congress cannot allow this opportunity to pass us by.”
An underlying cause of America’s housing crisis is a market failure that results in a severe shortage of rental homes affordable to people with the lowest incomes. In Indiana there are 202,171 extremely low-income households but only 75,219 affordable rental homes available to them. The result is only 37 affordable and available rental homes for every 100 Hoosier households with extremely low incomes, the second-lowest rate of availability among Midwest states.
Despite the clear and urgent need, only one in four households who qualify for housing assistance receives it due to decades of chronic underfunding by Congress. People of color – especially women of color – and other marginalized renters are most harmed by the housing crisis.
# # #
For more information about the HoUSed campaign, please visit www.nlihc.org/housed.
Thank you Chairman Holdman and Members of the Interim Study Committee. My name is Andrew Bradley, and I am Policy Director for Prosperity Indiana. My testimony today is informed by a series of regional housing convenings we’ve been conducting this month with our statewide membership of community economic development organizations and housing providers, realtors, homelessness service organizations and legislators. We’re holding our last two tomorrow in Fishers and next Tuesday in Fort Wayne and I invite all of you to join what have been some very illuminating discussions.
Those regional discussions have uncovered new support for the evidence we’ve seen that Indiana has a pre-existing and intertwined housing affordability and stability crisis that has only been exacerbated by the pandemic and increasingly puts our state at a competitive disadvantage with our Midwestern peers when it comes to maintaining and growing our workforce. However, there are policy options and resources on the table that could close the gap and secure homes for future generations of Hoosiers.
The stakes for housing our workforce and overall population are clear. Brand new Census data show that Indiana’s population grew 4.7% from 2010 to 2020. But our housing stock only grew 4.6% during that time, with net losses in nearly half of Indiana’s counties, mostly the smallest and most rural parts of the state. We can’t sustain or grow Indiana without sustaining and growing safe, affordable, and stable homes for Hoosiers.
Although Indiana is a relatively affordable place to live for some, quality affordable housing is far out of reach for too many across our state, including for much of our workforce. In fact, data from the National Low Income Housing Coalition finds that Indiana has a gap of -126,952 affordable and available units for the bottom 30% of earners. Indiana has the second-lowest supply of affordable and available housing among all Midwest states for people at 30% or below of area median income, with only 37 units for every 100 households. This bottom 30% of earners are what’s known as ‘extremely low income households’ and are the same category that employers say they can’t fill jobs for – the restaurant and bar workers; hotel and hospitality workers; certified nursing assistants and all kinds of high-touch personal service jobs most likely to be held by the Black and brown Hoosiers, women, and Hoosiers with low educational attainment that were most affected by the pandemic. Without a stable foundation of housing they can afford, these Hoosiers won’t be able to compete for higher-level jobs.
At the same time, 72% of Indiana’s extremely low-income households are severely housing cost burdened, meaning they spend more than half of their income on housing. This is the second-higest rate in the Midwest, And in 2021, it takes a renter $16.57 an hour to afford a 2BR unit at the statewide fair market rent of $862/month, the average Hoosier renter earns $14.58 per hour. That average renter wage of $14.58 is increasingly out of step with the Midwest average of $15.35, a gap of $0.77 per hour or almost $1,600 less than neighbors across the region. Meanwhile, the median wage for 10 of Indiana’s top 20 occupations pays less than the housing wage for a 2BR at fair market rent – and 6 of those top 20 occupations pays less than what’s needed for 1BR.
That’s a competitive disadvantage.
During our regional convenings, stakeholders who work with these issues on the ground every day told us that when Hoosiers have fewer available options and have to put a greater proportion of of a smaller income towards housing than elsewhere in the Midwest, it means they’re forced to choose rent instead of medicine, childrens’ school supplies, or savings needed to buy a home or skill up to move up the career ladder. It also means that families may be forced to accept substandard housing and live in poor conditions that affect children’s health and learning outcomes, parent’s ability to gain and maintain a job, and the overall economic viability of the community.
What adds fuel to the fire is the current housing crisis brought on by COVID-19. Indiana has seen over 55,000 eviction filings during the pandemic, despite eviction moratoriums. Even before the pandemic, Indiana had an eviction rate of 4.07%, nearly double the national average, with three Indiana cities among the top 20 for highest eviction rates nationwide.
And while emergency rental assistance is now beginning to reach the landlords and renters who need it, even having that eviction filing can hang like a “Scarlet E” around a renter family’s neck, making it harder for them to obtain new housing, and leaving them more susceptible to the cycle of substandard housing that drains resources from families and communities. But unlike many criminal records, there is currently no way for renters to expunge that Scarlet E from their records, or even a right to access and correct errors in a tenant screening record.
At one convening this month, after hearing these stories from his community, one legislator remarked that “this housing issue is more complicated than rocket science”, but agreed that it’s necessary for communities to thrive and too important to neglect. However, the tools available to communities to keep their workforce stably housed has been reduced over the past few years, from preventing inclusive zoning to increase workforce housing, to disallowing communities from informing landlords and tenants of their legal rights.
Another stakeholder remarked that communities too often try to address housing issues thinking about the $300K-$500K homes, but too often don’t have a strategy for the lower income workforce that sees the most acute gaps. Perhaps the greatest benefit of this committee would be to provide a strategy for the state to align partners and resources to target available resources in the areas of greatest need, including:
Thank you for your dedication to addressing and finding lasting solutions to this complex issue.
Policy Director, Prosperity Indiana
[On July 21, 2021, Andrew Bradley, Prosperity Indiana Policy Director presented these remarks to the White House Eviction Prevention Convening]
Thank you, Mr. Sperling and Mr. Wardell and thank you to the White House for your leadership and ongoing efforts on this critical issue. I’m Andrew Bradley with Prosperity Indiana and the Indianapolis Summit working group to discuss our framework for equitable distribution of rental assistance.
Indianapolis and Indiana have a pre-existing eviction crisis with disproportionately unequal impacts that have only been exacerbated by COVID-19. Even before the pandemic, Indianapolis had the second-highest number of evictions among all U.S. cities, and was one of three cities in Indiana in the top 20 highest eviction rates nationwide. Since the pandemic began, there have been over 51,000 evictions filed statewide in Indiana, nearly double any other state tracked by EvictionLab, and over 17,000 in Indianapolis alone. Indianapolis also has one of the strongest correlations between neighborhoods with high eviction filings and low vaccination rates. We know that low-income renter households, Black and brown Hoosiers, and renter families with children have suffered the most housing instability during the pandemic. And we know that evictions cause long-term economic damage to families that can last over a decade, and that a new wave of evictions at the end of the CDC moratorium would overburden local community services already stretched thin.
However, Indiana communities like Indianapolis are currently limited by state legislation and policies in the proactive eviction prevention steps they can take, including notification of tenant rights or programs, eviction sealing or expungement, requiring settlement diversion programs, and other tools allowed in other states that cannot be implemented here without state action. But the stakes are too high to not make every effort to ensure Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) and American Rescue Plan Act resources reach the families, providers, and communities who need them most.
This is why our Indianapolis working group that includes city ERA program officials, local and state court officials, legal aid organizations, and local housing advocates is focusing on actions to ensure equitable implementation of emergency rental assistance that can serve as a model to scale statewide. We’ve created a framework to ensure the ERA program is visible, accessible, and preventative, and that it connects with other recovery resources in the courts and throughout communities. The participants in this working group will engage community stakeholders, including housing providers, public officials, low-income tenants, and Black, indigenous, and other people of color to implement a checklist to strengthen equitable marketing and targeting of ERA and other recovery programs (such as nutrition and workforce development), exploring alignment with funds from the Community Engagement portion of the American Rescue Plan Act’s Homeowner Assistance Fund to enable door-to-door outreach to the hardest hit communities. We’ve prioritized reducing barriers for tenants and landlords to apply for and receive the maximum allowed amount of ERA funds in the shortest possible amount of time. The framework also includes actions to strengthen connections and coordination between court-based eviction diversion activities and the Emergency Rental Assistance program, exploring adding ERA program access points in courts during eviction proceedings to increase awareness and fast-track applications. We plan to use outcome data to ensure that the communities most at need are being served, and so that this local effort in Indianapolis can be scaled to other ERA programs and courts statewide to help ensure no one is left out of a stronger and more equitable recovery for all Hoosiers. Thank you.
Contact: Andrew Bradley, Policy Director, Prosperity Indiana, firstname.lastname@example.org
Affordable Housing is Out of Reach in Indiana for Low-Wage Hoosier Workers
In order to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent in Indiana, full-time Hoosier workers need to earn $16.57 per hour. This is Indiana’s 2021 Housing Wage, revealed in a national report released today. The report, Out of Reach, was jointly released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), a research and advocacy organization dedicated solely to achieving affordable and decent homes for people with the lowest incomes, and Prosperity Indiana, the statewide membership organization for the individuals and organizations strengthening Hoosier communities.
This year, the Out of Reach report is released 16 months into a devastating pandemic, which has created enormous suffering. In addition to the lives lost, COVID-19 also created an economic crisis that pushed millions of low-wage workers out of work. The public health crisis is not over, but as the country begins to imagine life after COVID, it is imperative to also address the profound economic fallout for the lowest-income and most marginalized members of our communities. Prior to the pandemic, more than 7.6 million extremely low-income renters were already spending more than half of their limited incomes on housing costs, including more than 145,000 Hoosier households, sacrificing other necessities to do so.
After a year of job losses, furloughs, and limited hours, many of these Hoosier households will be even worse off in 2021. Across Indiana, a renter needs to earn $16.57 per hour to afford a modest two-bedroom rental home without spending more than 30% of their income on housing cost, up from $16.32 in 2020; or $13.43 per hour to afford a one-bedroom home, up from $13.16 in 2020. While the Housing Wage varies by county and metropolitan area, low-wage workers everywhere throughout Indiana struggle to afford their housing, requiring no less than $14.08 and as much as $18.19 per hour for a modest two-bedroom unit.
Jessica Love, executive director for Prosperity Indiana, said, “The cost of housing in Indiana just keeps rising, which means the state Housing Wage – what you really need to earn for your home to be affordable to you – keeps going up. Unfortunately, the average renter’s wage hasn’t risen much for Hoosiers, especially when compared to our Midwestern peers. And this only serves to widen the disparities experienced by the lowest income renters.”
Source: Prosperity Indiana analysis of data from Out of Reach 2021
The federal minimum wage has remained at $7.25 an hour without an increase since 2009, not keeping pace with the high cost of rental housing. In no state, including Indiana, can a minimum-wage renter working a 40-hour work week afford a modest one- or two-bedroom rental unit at the average fair market rent. Working at Indiana’s minimum wage at the federal floor of $7.25 in 2021, a Hoosier wage earner must have 1.9 full-time jobs or work 74 hours per week to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment, up from 73 in 2020; and earn 2.3 full-time jobs or work 91 hours per week to afford a two-bedroom apartment, up from 90 in 2020.
The typical Hoosier renter earns $14.58 per hour, which is $1.99 less than the hourly wage needed to afford a modest unit. Even before the additional economic pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic, Indiana’s renter wages were consistently far below the state’s housing cost. Indiana’s mean renter wage is increasingly out of step with that of our Midwestern neighbors, with Hoosiers now earning $0.77 per hour less than the average of other Midwest states.
Despite Indiana’s reputation for having a low cost of living, working full-time does not guarantee affordable housing for many Hoosiers in Indiana’s largest occupations. The median wage for 10 of Indiana’s top 20 largest occupations is below the two-bedroom Housing Wage, with six of those occupations paying less than what is needed for even a one-bedroom unit.
Source: Occupational wages from May 2020 Occupational Employment Statistics, BLS, adjusted to 2021 dollars. Housing wages based on HUD fair market rents.
“Housing is a basic human need and should be regarded an unconditional human right,” said Diane Yentel NLIHC president and CEO. “With the highest levels of job losses since the Great Depression and a pandemic that continues to spread, low-income workers and communities of color are disproportionately harmed. The enduring problem of housing unaffordability ultimately calls for bold investments in housing programs that will ensure stability in the future. Without a significant federal intervention, housing will continue to be out of reach. This leaves millions susceptible to the overwhelming consequences of Congressional inaction.”
For additional information, visit: http://www.nlihc.org/oor and contact Prosperity Indiana for additional Indiana county- and metro-area data.