Prosperity Indiana is pleased several media outlets helped lift up our productive conversation around evictions and affordable housing at Horizon House on June 5, entitled "Confronting a Hoosier Housing Crisis."
Lack of affordable housing is a growing problem in Indiana
June 5, 2019 | Filed under: Jobs, economy & labor,Top stories | Posted by: Janet Williams
By Abrahm Hurt
INDIANAPOLIS—Every day in Indiana 86 families or nearly 32,000 a year are evicted from their homes, an event that will end up making it more difficult for them to find a place they can afford.
That statistic was shared Wednesday by Prosperity Indiana, an economic development organization that works to provide resources and advocacy to strengthen local communities.
Nearly half of all Hoosiers who rent are burdened by the cost because they are paying more than 30% of their monthly income on housing, said Jessica Love, executive director of Prosperity Indiana.
Jessica Love of Prosperity Indiana describes the challenges low-income Hoosiers face in seeking affordable housing. Photo by LaMonte Richardson, TheStathouseFile.com
Across the state there is a lack of affordable housing for low-income individuals, she added. In fact, Indianapolis has the 14th highest eviction rate among large cities in the United States, according to their data.
“While we’re sharing some dire statistics and trends today, we’re not doing so to indicate that the situation is hopeless,” Love said. “Rather, we want to encourage more voices to speak up now on what is happening to Hoosiers who are housing unstable and build support for the best solutions at the federal, state and local levels.”
Prosperity Indiana joined the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention (CHIP), the IU Public Policy Institute and the National Low Income Housing Coalition at the Horizon House in Indianapolis to discuss the affordable housing issue. They stressed the need for advocacy to advance state and federal policy solutions.
Love said two bills filed in the 2019 legislative session would have helped prevent evictions and ensure renters live in safe housing, but they both failed to pass.
Senate Bill 524, authored by Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, would have expanded legal aid to tenants in crisis, and it would have made it a criminal offense to rent a condemned property. It was assigned to the Commerce and Technology Committee and never got a hearing.
Senate Bill 422, which was authored by Sen. Mike Bohacek, R-Michiana Shores, would have allowed tenants to terminate a lease if basic habitability standards were not met within a reasonable time frame after moving in. The bill got out of the Judiciary Committee but never got a vote on the floor of the full Senate.
Kathleen Lara, policy director for Prosperity Indiana, said the biggest reason the legislation failed was because the issue had not been addressed in more than 10 years and a general lack of testimony in favor of the bills.
Michael Hurst, an attorney with Indiana legal services, has been part of a project to make the eviction process less transactional in Indiana and provide counsel. In six months, Hurst has handled 178 referrals.
“I kept the eviction of their record, but when push came to shove, they were not able to find alternative, affordable housing to go to,” he said, explaining that most of his clients are single mothers who cannot find housing they can afford.
Prosperity Indiana reports that an individual making minimum wage would have to work 86 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom apartment at a fair market rate in the state.
Love said a larger coalition of people and groups would bring more options and policy changes.
“We’ve said it’s not legal to put people in a home that’s not habitable,” she said. “But there’s also nothing happening really to enforce that.”
Abrahm Hurt is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.
This story also ran in:
South Bend: https://www.southbendtribune.com/news/local/lack-of-affordable-housing-is-a-growing-problem-in-indiana/article_001358b7-dffa-5b97-94aa-5b4a29cea0eb.html
NUVO (Indianapolis): https://www.nuvo.net/news/lack-of-affordable-housing-is-a-growing-problem-in-indiana/article_e3227d12-8874-11e9-bd43-bfe945bcb28e.html
Print/Public Media (WFYI/WBAA):
Community Advocates Call For More Affordable Housing To Solve Eviction Problems
ORIGINAL STORY FROM IPBS-RJC
Article origination IPBS-RJC
Leaders from Indiana and national community organizations discuss the state's high eviction rates and potential solutions.Brandon Smith/IPB News
Indiana has one of the highest rates of evictions in the country – only six states are worse.
And many community advocates point to one issue as a major cause.
Three of Indiana’s biggest cities are in the top 20 in the country among comparably-sized communities for highest eviction rates – Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, and South Bend. Indianapolis has the second most evictions of any city in the country, behind only New York City.
Prosperity Indiana’s Jessica Love – like many community advocates – points to a major issue the state must address to help reduce evictions.
“They must also include more resources to fund the expansion of affordable housing,” Love says.
Judy Fox runs the Economic Justice clinic in South Bend. She says she’d also like to see Indiana create an eviction expungement process.
“If you were evicted 10 years ago, why is that still on your record and preventing people from renting to you?” Fox says.
Some community leaders say there’s hope for federal action, spearheaded in part by Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.).
Following the event in Indianapolis, Prosperity Indiana's Executive Director, Jessica Love, and Policy Director, Kathleen Lara, appeared on the Community Connection segment of FM 92.7/AM 1310's The Light, hosted by Tina Cosby discussing evictions and the affordable housing crisis in Indiana.
You can listen to that interview here: https://praiseindy.com/2168011/community-connection-thursday-june-6th/
Opinion Piece: South Bend
Our Opinion: Indiana must treat safe, affordable housing with urgency
A shard of glass sticks out of the ground in a common area at Miami Hills apartment complex on May 21 in South Bend.Tribune Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN
Most would agree people should have access to safe, affordable housing, but that’s still an elusive goal for many.
Last month tenants at Miami Hills Apartments in South Bend complained about substandard living conditions they’ve been forced to live with. Problems ranged from mold on bathroom walls to leaking ceilings and water heaters not working properly.
And these are not new issues.
In a recent Viewpoint, Judith Fox, a University of Notre Dame law school professor and director of the Economic Justice Clinic, a group that provides free legal services to low-income clients, said she asked HUD in Indianapolis about the apartment complex more than 10 years ago.
Even though the apartment complex was failing inspections, HUD officials passed them anyway because people living there had no other housing options.
A story from TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website, recently reported that 86 families a day, or nearly 32,000 a year, are evicted from their homes in Indiana. And nearly half of all Hoosiers who rent are burdened by the cost because they are paying more than 30% of their monthly income on housing, according to Prosperity Indiana.
The Indiana General Assembly tried to weigh in on the issue. Two bills were filed in the 2019 legislative session that would have helped prevent evictions and ensure renters live in safe housing, but both failed to pass.
One would have made it a criminal offense to rent a condemned property, but it never it received a hearing. Another would have allowed tenants to terminate a lease if basic habitability standards were not met within a reasonable time after a tenant moved in. That bill was never voted on by the full Senate.
Locally, the South Bend Common Council recently adopted the Rental Safety Verification Program that underscores the need for more safe, affordable housing.
The program is managed by the Department of Code Enforcement and allows the city to proactively address violations in rental housing that put residents at risk for health issues and safety concerns.
After the first three months, 108 of 132 rental units inspected have failed. Most of those already had open violation files with code enforcement.
The RSVP is a good step, but it’s only a small one. There are still too many falling through the cracks.
There seems to be consensus building that safe, affordable housing is lacking here and elsewhere in the state. Now what’s needed is action, including from state lawmakers, to prioritize this public safety issue.