INDIANAPOLIS — A desperate push to get city and state leaders to protect Hoosiers from rising rates was demonstrated at The Indiana Historical Society Monday.
Rent has increased tremendously across the state, forcing tenants to spend their evening at the "Rent Too High" Town Hall looking for solutions that will help ease the financial burden.
Indiana is one of five states, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, and North Carolina, without any concrete renters protection laws. This means your landlord can increase the price by however much they want.
"Indianapolis rent has shot up 30% since last year. It is the highest increase in the whole country,"Dee Ross said. "How are you supposed to make three times the rent to move in? Minimum wage is stuck at $7.25 an hour."
This is an uncomfortable reality for many Hoosiers faced with climbing rent rates.
"Previously to this place, I was only paying like $975 for three bedrooms and when I got one more bedroom, it's now $1700,” Markina Sharkey said. “that's when I knew these prices are ridiculous."
A panel of city leaders and community advocates answered questions Monday night and explained the next steps, to fight this housing crisis.
"Housing is a human right, not some luxury only a few can have," Ross said.
"Our top four priorities that will protect our tenants for us to get into law will be: 1. Rent escrow. 2. Rank to council. 3. Anti-rent gouging protections. 4. Repair and deduct," Laurin Embry, Director of Indiana Tenant Association and Indianapolis Tenant Rights Union said.
The average rent in Indianapolis for a 876-square-foot apartment is $1,193. Carmel ranks the highest with average rent hitting $1,623, according to Rent Cafe.
"I have a husband. It's two of us and it's still like, wow. This is a strain," Sharkey said.
Embry said that growing rates will continue to reach outrageous price points if lawmakers don't act fast.
"Let them know we're paying attention. We know that we are in this oppressive state because you're choosing to and it's unacceptable and we're no longer tolerating it," Embry said.
"Over the last few years, we have spent tens of millions of dollars of the money we received from the government for tenant protection. That money unfortunately has now run out," Vop Osili, City Council President said.
"We can change this. I'm a firm believer that we can change the time and get rid of some of these bad laws being passed that have led to our housing crisis," Amy Nelson, the Executive Director of the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana, said.
January 29th is the next major step in this fight. Embry said on that day, they will head to the statehouse for Housing Advocacy Day. Tenants and advocates from across the Hoosier state will rally together, hoping to gain attention from state lawmakers.