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Assistance available for renters hit hard by COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 10:44 PM, Jun 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-25 22:44:36-04

MONROE COUNTY — It's been a rough couple of months for thousands of Hoosiers like Debra Biller.

"I have been without employment for three months now," Biller said.

The Monroe County resident is still waiting on unemployment assistance and her bill, including rent, keep coming.

"Everything is backed up and so they said they couldn't evict us but that rent does not go away it just stacks up against us," Biller said.

Today, she's breathing a sigh of relief knowing she could qualify for the state's COVID-19 rental assistance program which will provide up to $500 a month for four months to help renters with ongoing payments and late fees.

"I hear tremendous concerns from a lot of tenants about how they were going to pay," Troy Tyson, an attorney with Tyson Law Firm, said.

Attorneys specializing in renter's rights said the program could help a lot of people. One of the stipulations of it though is a landlord has to agree to participate as the money will go straight from the state to them.

"For most of them this is going to be a positive," Tyson said. "I would be surprised if most of them did not sign off on it."

Tyson said there could be a few cases where they don't.

"Number one if there's a problem tenant and they see this is their opportunity to move the tenant out at some point or if the tenant has shown a history of not being able to pay or has gotten so far behind something along those lines the landlord just seems that it's not worth pushing forward with that tenant," Tyson said.

That's not something most people should have to worry about. Renters like Biller said if approved for the program it could provide the financial break she and her son need right now.

"It is so important," Biller said. "It means everything for us. We have nothing."

The program will be available in all counties except Marion where there is a separate assistance program.