[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.