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Fair Housing advocates urge the Indiana legislature to take action on housing crisis

Posted at 9:19 PM, Feb 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-16 21:19:30-05

INDIANAPOLIS — There's a push to improve the quality of housing for renters across Central Indiana.

The Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition says 84% of families that are at risk of eviction haven't applied to rental assistance because they say that rental assistance program are dried up. They say that over 150,000 people have called 211 asking for help with housing. 17,000 of them haven't gotten the help they need.

The organization held a press conference on Thursday to lay out the facts surrounding the housing issues in Indiana. They're calling on the legislature to create a housing stability pilot fund to be added to the budget.

They originally planned on doing it during the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday by testifying in support of Senate Bill 202. But that bill wasn't giving a hearing after it was assigned to a summer study committee.

That bill would have expanded renter’s rights and held landlords accountable. It would have done so by allowing the court to step in when landlords haven’t fixed issues with a renter’s dwelling for over 30 days.

Courts would have been able to establish escrow accounts that the renter would have paid their rent in to. The court would then decide how that money would be used by the landlord.

Renters from across the staterallied in support of the bill Monday.

The Coalition say this crisis is something lawmakers need to address now, not next legislative session.

"We have a crisis of housing in Indianapolis and in the state and it seems that our legislators are not interested in addressing the problem," Rabi Aaron Spiegel with the greater Indianapolis Multi Faith Alliance said.

"Unfortunately, the housing industry is very powerful in our state,” Amy Nelson, the Executive Director of the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana, said. “It’s one of the reasons why we have seen so many out of state landlords come in to our state. They feel that the laws here are very friendly to them and they can take people's rent and not even have to do basic repairs that needs to stop.”

Democratic Senator Fady Qaddoura, who introduced the bill, says he's more determined than ever to be a voice for renters. He says Indiana is one of five states without protections for property tax payers who are renters.

You can read his full statement below.

"Despite the setback caused by the General Assembly's decision to not advance protections for property taxpayers who are renters, I'm more determined than ever to work tirelessly for the voiceless in our communities so that they are not treated as second class citizens. Indiana is one of five states nationwide without protections for property tax payers who are renters. By not acting on SB 202, the General Assembly's inaction provides cover to negligent corporate landlords. All Hoosiers deserve safe and secure housing."
Senator Fady Qaddoura