FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Natalie James | (317) 222-1221 x406 | email@example.com
Prosperity Indiana Urges Congress to Prioritize Affordable Housing Investments in the Build Back Better Act
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – As Congressional leaders negotiate over the size and scope of the Build Back Better Act, the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s (NLIHC) HoUSed campaign and Prosperity Indiana urge Congress to ensure that any final economic recovery package prioritizes housing investments targeted to serve America’s lowest-income and most marginalized households who face the greatest, clearest needs. The Build Back Better Act must include investments in rental assistance, public housing, and the Housing Trust Fund at the historic levels approved by the House Financial Services Committee and drafted with the Senate Banking Committee.
America is in the grips of an affordable housing crisis, most severely impacting the most marginalized and lowest-income people. Nationally, there is a shortage of 7 million homes affordable and available to the lowest-income renters including a gap of nearly 127,000 units in Indiana alone. While there are proven solutions that can address the affordability crisis, current funding levels from Congress leave three out of four eligible households receiving no assistance at all, which is what brought us to the brink of an eviction tsunami during a global health emergency.
“The spotlight that COVID has shown on the preexisting crisis - the need for better and more affordable housing - makes this long-standing issue undeniable at this point,” said Jessica Love, executive director for Prosperity Indiana. “It’s time now to not only address the immediacy of the moment but to invest into the future of our nation’s families and communities by supporting the myriad of tools available to us to build and preserve affordable housing.”
The National Low Income Housing Coalition’s (NLIHC) HoUSed campaign and Prosperity Indiana urge Congress to enact historic investments in the country’s affordable housing infrastructure, including $90 billion to expand rental assistance to 1 million more households, $80 billion to preserve public housing for more than 2.5 million residents, and $37 billion for the national Housing Trust Fund to build, preserve and rehabilitate 330,000 apartments affordable to the lowest-income people. Any spending cuts to the Build Back Better Act must not come at the expense of these proven solutions to America’s housing crisis.
“There’s never been a moment where there were such transformative investments on the table and there was a real potential to achieve them,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel. “The Build Back Better Act is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to effectively end homelessness – if done right. Congress cannot allow this opportunity to pass us by.”
An underlying cause of America’s housing crisis is a market failure that results in a severe shortage of rental homes affordable to people with the lowest incomes. In Indiana there are 202,171 extremely low-income households but only 75,219 affordable rental homes available to them. The result is only 37 affordable and available rental homes for every 100 Hoosier households with extremely low incomes, the second-lowest rate of availability among Midwest states.
Despite the clear and urgent need, only one in four households who qualify for housing assistance receives it due to decades of chronic underfunding by Congress. People of color – especially women of color – and other marginalized renters are most harmed by the housing crisis.
# # #
For more information about the HoUSed campaign, please visit www.nlihc.org/housed.
About Prosperity Indiana
Indiana Association for Community Economic Development d/b/a Prosperity Indiana builds a better future for our communities by providing advocacy, leveraging resources and engaging an empowered network of members to create inclusive opportunities that build assets and improve lives. Since its founding in 1986, Prosperity Indiana has grown to nearly 200 members from the public, private and nonprofit sectors.
Thank you Chairman Holdman and Members of the Interim Study Committee. My name is Andrew Bradley, and I am Policy Director for Prosperity Indiana. My testimony today is informed by a series of regional housing convenings we’ve been conducting this month with our statewide membership of community economic development organizations and housing providers, realtors, homelessness service organizations and legislators. We’re holding our last two tomorrow in Fishers and next Tuesday in Fort Wayne and I invite all of you to join what have been some very illuminating discussions.
Those regional discussions have uncovered new support for the evidence we’ve seen that Indiana has a pre-existing and intertwined housing affordability and stability crisis that has only been exacerbated by the pandemic and increasingly puts our state at a competitive disadvantage with our Midwestern peers when it comes to maintaining and growing our workforce. However, there are policy options and resources on the table that could close the gap and secure homes for future generations of Hoosiers.
The stakes for housing our workforce and overall population are clear. Brand new Census data show that Indiana’s population grew 4.7% from 2010 to 2020. But our housing stock only grew 4.6% during that time, with net losses in nearly half of Indiana’s counties, mostly the smallest and most rural parts of the state. We can’t sustain or grow Indiana without sustaining and growing safe, affordable, and stable homes for Hoosiers.
Although Indiana is a relatively affordable place to live for some, quality affordable housing is far out of reach for too many across our state, including for much of our workforce. In fact, data from the National Low Income Housing Coalition finds that Indiana has a gap of -126,952 affordable and available units for the bottom 30% of earners. Indiana has the second-lowest supply of affordable and available housing among all Midwest states for people at 30% or below of area median income, with only 37 units for every 100 households. This bottom 30% of earners are what’s known as ‘extremely low income households’ and are the same category that employers say they can’t fill jobs for – the restaurant and bar workers; hotel and hospitality workers; certified nursing assistants and all kinds of high-touch personal service jobs most likely to be held by the Black and brown Hoosiers, women, and Hoosiers with low educational attainment that were most affected by the pandemic. Without a stable foundation of housing they can afford, these Hoosiers won’t be able to compete for higher-level jobs.
At the same time, 72% of Indiana’s extremely low-income households are severely housing cost burdened, meaning they spend more than half of their income on housing. This is the second-higest rate in the Midwest, And in 2021, it takes a renter $16.57 an hour to afford a 2BR unit at the statewide fair market rent of $862/month, the average Hoosier renter earns $14.58 per hour. That average renter wage of $14.58 is increasingly out of step with the Midwest average of $15.35, a gap of $0.77 per hour or almost $1,600 less than neighbors across the region. Meanwhile, the median wage for 10 of Indiana’s top 20 occupations pays less than the housing wage for a 2BR at fair market rent – and 6 of those top 20 occupations pays less than what’s needed for 1BR.
That’s a competitive disadvantage.
During our regional convenings, stakeholders who work with these issues on the ground every day told us that when Hoosiers have fewer available options and have to put a greater proportion of of a smaller income towards housing than elsewhere in the Midwest, it means they’re forced to choose rent instead of medicine, childrens’ school supplies, or savings needed to buy a home or skill up to move up the career ladder. It also means that families may be forced to accept substandard housing and live in poor conditions that affect children’s health and learning outcomes, parent’s ability to gain and maintain a job, and the overall economic viability of the community.
What adds fuel to the fire is the current housing crisis brought on by COVID-19. Indiana has seen over 55,000 eviction filings during the pandemic, despite eviction moratoriums. Even before the pandemic, Indiana had an eviction rate of 4.07%, nearly double the national average, with three Indiana cities among the top 20 for highest eviction rates nationwide.
And while emergency rental assistance is now beginning to reach the landlords and renters who need it, even having that eviction filing can hang like a “Scarlet E” around a renter family’s neck, making it harder for them to obtain new housing, and leaving them more susceptible to the cycle of substandard housing that drains resources from families and communities. But unlike many criminal records, there is currently no way for renters to expunge that Scarlet E from their records, or even a right to access and correct errors in a tenant screening record.
At one convening this month, after hearing these stories from his community, one legislator remarked that “this housing issue is more complicated than rocket science”, but agreed that it’s necessary for communities to thrive and too important to neglect. However, the tools available to communities to keep their workforce stably housed has been reduced over the past few years, from preventing inclusive zoning to increase workforce housing, to disallowing communities from informing landlords and tenants of their legal rights.
Another stakeholder remarked that communities too often try to address housing issues thinking about the $300K-$500K homes, but too often don’t have a strategy for the lower income workforce that sees the most acute gaps. Perhaps the greatest benefit of this committee would be to provide a strategy for the state to align partners and resources to target available resources in the areas of greatest need, including:
Thank you for your dedication to addressing and finding lasting solutions to this complex issue.
Policy Director, Prosperity Indiana
[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.
Contact: Andrew Bradley, Policy Director, Prosperity Indiana, firstname.lastname@example.org
Affordable Housing is Out of Reach in Indiana for Low-Wage Hoosier Workers
In order to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent in Indiana, full-time Hoosier workers need to earn $16.57 per hour. This is Indiana’s 2021 Housing Wage, revealed in a national report released today. The report, Out of Reach, was jointly released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), a research and advocacy organization dedicated solely to achieving affordable and decent homes for people with the lowest incomes, and Prosperity Indiana, the statewide membership organization for the individuals and organizations strengthening Hoosier communities.
This year, the Out of Reach report is released 16 months into a devastating pandemic, which has created enormous suffering. In addition to the lives lost, COVID-19 also created an economic crisis that pushed millions of low-wage workers out of work. The public health crisis is not over, but as the country begins to imagine life after COVID, it is imperative to also address the profound economic fallout for the lowest-income and most marginalized members of our communities. Prior to the pandemic, more than 7.6 million extremely low-income renters were already spending more than half of their limited incomes on housing costs, including more than 145,000 Hoosier households, sacrificing other necessities to do so.
After a year of job losses, furloughs, and limited hours, many of these Hoosier households will be even worse off in 2021. Across Indiana, a renter needs to earn $16.57 per hour to afford a modest two-bedroom rental home without spending more than 30% of their income on housing cost, up from $16.32 in 2020; or $13.43 per hour to afford a one-bedroom home, up from $13.16 in 2020. While the Housing Wage varies by county and metropolitan area, low-wage workers everywhere throughout Indiana struggle to afford their housing, requiring no less than $14.08 and as much as $18.19 per hour for a modest two-bedroom unit.
Jessica Love, executive director for Prosperity Indiana, said, “The cost of housing in Indiana just keeps rising, which means the state Housing Wage – what you really need to earn for your home to be affordable to you – keeps going up. Unfortunately, the average renter’s wage hasn’t risen much for Hoosiers, especially when compared to our Midwestern peers. And this only serves to widen the disparities experienced by the lowest income renters.”
Source: Prosperity Indiana analysis of data from Out of Reach 2021
The federal minimum wage has remained at $7.25 an hour without an increase since 2009, not keeping pace with the high cost of rental housing. In no state, including Indiana, can a minimum-wage renter working a 40-hour work week afford a modest one- or two-bedroom rental unit at the average fair market rent. Working at Indiana’s minimum wage at the federal floor of $7.25 in 2021, a Hoosier wage earner must have 1.9 full-time jobs or work 74 hours per week to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment, up from 73 in 2020; and earn 2.3 full-time jobs or work 91 hours per week to afford a two-bedroom apartment, up from 90 in 2020.
The typical Hoosier renter earns $14.58 per hour, which is $1.99 less than the hourly wage needed to afford a modest unit. Even before the additional economic pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic, Indiana’s renter wages were consistently far below the state’s housing cost. Indiana’s mean renter wage is increasingly out of step with that of our Midwestern neighbors, with Hoosiers now earning $0.77 per hour less than the average of other Midwest states.
Despite Indiana’s reputation for having a low cost of living, working full-time does not guarantee affordable housing for many Hoosiers in Indiana’s largest occupations. The median wage for 10 of Indiana’s top 20 largest occupations is below the two-bedroom Housing Wage, with six of those occupations paying less than what is needed for even a one-bedroom unit.
Source: Occupational wages from May 2020 Occupational Employment Statistics, BLS, adjusted to 2021 dollars. Housing wages based on HUD fair market rents.
“Housing is a basic human need and should be regarded an unconditional human right,” said Diane Yentel NLIHC president and CEO. “With the highest levels of job losses since the Great Depression and a pandemic that continues to spread, low-income workers and communities of color are disproportionately harmed. The enduring problem of housing unaffordability ultimately calls for bold investments in housing programs that will ensure stability in the future. Without a significant federal intervention, housing will continue to be out of reach. This leaves millions susceptible to the overwhelming consequences of Congressional inaction.”
For additional information, visit: http://www.nlihc.org/oor and contact Prosperity Indiana for additional Indiana county- and metro-area data.
July 2, 2021
Contact: Natalie James | (317) 222-1221 x406| email@example.com
Prosperity Indiana and the Opportunity Starts at Home – Indiana Coalition Thank Senator Young for Introducing Key Housing Stability and Affordability Legislation
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – Prosperity Indiana and the Opportunity Starts at Home – Indiana Coalition are thanking Senator Todd Young for introducing three key pieces of legislation that would help address Indiana’s eviction and housing affordability crisis. The three bills, including the Eviction Crisis Act of 2021, the Task Force on the Impact of the Affordable Housing Crisis Act, and the Family Stability and Opportunity Vouchers Act strongly align with the agenda of the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign and Prosperity Indiana’s policy priorities for Indiana’s community economic development sector.
Jessica Love, Executive Director for Prosperity Indiana, said, “We are thankful to see that Senator Young has not relented in his pursuit of addressing the affordable housing challenges that Indiana communities continue to face. Our work at Prosperity Indiana, in conjunction with our partners, is broadly focused on strengthening our communities but zeroes in on solving housing stability concerns that our lowest-income neighbors continue to face in the state. Senator Young’s solution-oriented bills – that are both proactive and responsive to the needs of the most vulnerable Hoosier families – are critical next steps to moving the needle on these escalating issues.”
Indiana had a pre-existing eviction and housing affordability crisis that has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. There are only 37 affordable and available rental homes for every 100 households with extremely low incomes in Indiana, which is tied for the second-lowest rate among 12 Midwest states. As a result, approximately 72 percent of Hoosier renters with extremely low incomes are severely cost burdened and at risk of homelessness, which is the second-highest rate in the Midwest. This severe cost burden contributes to a statewide eviction rate far higher than the U.S. average, with Indianapolis, South Bend, and Fort Wayne among the 20 cities with the highest eviction rates nationwide.
In the midst of COVID-19, and despite eviction moratoria, Indiana has seen over 47,000 evictions filed during the pandemic, with the greatest increases occurring in the state’s small and rural counties. But what could exacerbate the dangers of evictions in our cities during the lingering pandemic is the fact that neighborhoods with the highest eviction filing rates have the lowest levels of COVID-19 vaccination.
Love said, “Just as seriously as our nation has pursued vaccines and ‘getting shots in arms’ to eliminate this deadly virus plaguing our state and country, we must attack our affordable housing and eviction crises head-on. If we operate under the same assumption – that addressing the needs of the most vulnerable ultimately benefits us all – and attack the frailty of housing stability for so many with the same level of resources and dedication, Hoosier families and communities will become stronger. And Senator Young’s bills will help us do just that.”
On June 23, 2021, Senator Todd Young (R-IN), along with Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), reintroduced the Eviction Crisis Act, which creates new tools to help end the nation’s continuing eviction epidemic. Among various other promising provisions, the legislation includes the creation of an Emergency Assistance Fund to test, evaluate, and expand proven interventions to help low-income households facing housing instability due to an unexpected economic shock. This policy solution was developed and championed by the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign, which worked closely with the bill’s sponsors. The reintroduction of this legislation marks a significant milestone for the campaign in advancing its policy agenda.
Leading national organizations from the housing, education, health, civil rights, anti-hunger, anti-poverty, criminal justice, child welfare, and faith-based sectors have come together through the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign to advocate for more robust and equitable federal housing policies, such as those included in the Eviction Crisis Act.
“Improving housing stability is not just about keeping people in their homes, but it’s also about providing them with the foundation they need for success in many other areas of life. Stable, affordable homes are linked with better educational outcomes, better health outcomes across the lifespan, greater food security, upward economic mobility, and reduced costs to the taxpayer,” said Mike Koprowski, National Director of the Opportunity Starts at Home Campaign.
Also on June 23, Senator Young, along with Angus King (I-Maine), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), John Kennedy (R-LA), and Jon Tester (D-MT), reintroduced the Task Force on the Impact of the Affordable Housing Crisis Act, which would create a bipartisan housing task force to understand and respond to America’s housing affordability crisis. If enacted, the task force would evaluate and quantify the impact of housing costs on other government programs and provide recommendations to Congress on how to increase affordable housing options to improve life outcomes.
In a statement on the bill’s introduction, Senator Young said, “I’ve seen firsthand in Indiana how a lack of affordable housing has negative and lasting consequences. The inability to access safe and affordable homes leaves Hoosier families with fewer dollars to spend on important expenses like health care and groceries, and the pandemic has only exacerbated this problem. Our bipartisan bill would assemble a group of experts to better understand the housing affordability crisis so that we might take legislative action to end the cycle of poverty for millions of struggling Americans while decreasing overall taxpayer expenditures.”
On June 9, Senator Young and Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) reintroduced the Family Stability and Opportunity Vouchers Act, which would create an additional 500,000 housing vouchers – specifically designed for low-income families with young children – to expand their access to neighborhoods of opportunity with high-performing schools, strong job prospects, and other resources. This legislation could largely eliminate homelessness among families with young children, as well as substantially reduce the number of children growing up in areas of concentrated poverty. This policy solution has been championed by the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign, which worked with the bill’s sponsors to get the concept introduced into legislation.
The legislation prioritizes these new vouchers for low-income pregnant women and families with children under age 6, who either have a recent history of homelessness or housing instability, or live in an area of concentrated poverty (or are at risk of being displaced from an opportunity area). These new vouchers would be coupled with counseling and services that have a proven track record of supporting parents and helping families move out of neighborhoods of concentrated poverty. The half-million new vouchers created through this legislation would be phased in over five years at 100,000 per year.
“At its root, housing affordability is a basic needs issue. For the most vulnerable Hoosiers, lack of access to affordable housing means an increased likelihood of evictions and impeded access to economic opportunity, and the Opportunity Starts at Home Indiana Coalition is working to ensure that economic opportunity is available to all Hoosiers,” said Natalie James, Prosperity Indiana Coalition Builder.
Research shows that when children in poor families grow up in neighborhoods with low poverty, quality schools, and low crime, they are significantly more likely to attend college, less likely to become single parents, and more likely to earn dramatically more as adults over the course of their lifetimes. This helps break cycles of generational poverty and produces a positive taxpayer return. Research also shows that low-income students perform better academically and close achievement gaps faster when housing assistance enables them to live stably in opportunity neighborhoods with lower-poverty schools.
James added, “Eviction is expensive, not just for renters, but also for cities and municipalities that deal with the consequences of eviction. To remedy the issues of eviction and housing affordability, we must create opportunities for vulnerable renters to have access to the resources they need. Solving this problem supports not just the renters but the Hoosier state as a whole. Thank you to Senator Young for leading efforts to make Indiana a more equitable place to live for everyone."
Opportunity Starts at Home – Indiana Coalition
The goal of the Opportunity Starts at Home - Indiana Coalition (OSAH-IN) is to achieve ambitious increases in affordable housing — through existing and new housing infrastructure; and direct support to organizations that assist those who are unstably housed or homeless. The Indiana coalition will also seek to expand voucher supports that fund deeply targeted housing assistance for extremely low-income households, including vulnerable populations, such as youth, seniors and those with disabilities. The coalition will also seek to implement policy change to reduce federal and state barriers to housing stability.
June 4, 2021
Contact: Jessica Fraser, Indiana Institute for Working Families, firstname.lastname@example.org; Jan Kruse, National Consumer Law Center, email@example.com
New 50-State Survey Finds Losses for Indiana Consumers in Larger, Longer High-Cost Predatory Loans
INDIANAPOLIS – A high-cost predatory loan is only made worse when the loan is larger and longer. But while residents in some states are gaining protections from these larger, longer-term products, Hoosiers are now paying more than before the COVID-19 crisis, according to a new report from the National Consumer Law Center. This report builds on NCLC’s extensive work on predatory lending.
“The Institute and Prosperity Indiana have been working to educate policymakers and the public about how harmful these high-cost loans are to financially vulnerable Hoosiers. This research will help us advance the 36 percent rate cap Hoosiers desperately need,” said Jessica Fraser, Director of the Indiana Institute for Working Families.
“This new report shows how Indiana stacks up against other states when it comes to rate caps, and it’s not pretty. Despite Hoosiers asking for more responsible lending policies, the state allows some of the highest rate caps in the Midwest. This is now pitting Hoosiers who are working to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic against the growing predatory lending industry – a result of policies that have been moving in the wrong direction for years,” said Jessica Love, Executive Director of Prosperity Indiana.
In 2020, Indiana enacted a law (SEA 395) that increases the already excessive fees that lenders can charge and distorts the interest rate. The result is that non-bank lenders in the state can now charge an APR of 89 percent for a $500 six-month loan, an increase from 71 percent. For a two-year, $2,000 loan, the increased fee pushes the APR cap up from 39 percent to 40 percent.
Source: National Consumer Law Center, State Rate Caps for $500 and $2,000 Loans, March 2021
“Since the pandemic, Indiana has failed to assist struggling families by decreasing rates on consumer loans and instead welcomed predatory lenders by increasing already excessive fees,” said National Consumer Law Center Deputy Director Carolyn Carter, author of the report. “To avoid trapping residents in long-term debt, we encourage a 36 percent interest rate, including all fees.”
About the Indiana Institute for Working Families
The Indiana Institute for Working Families promotes public policies to help Hoosier families achieve financial well-being. We value, gather, and translate quantitative and qualitative data to communicate the opportunities and challenges that Hoosiers experience. We advance well-being by promoting evidence-based solutions and building coalitions to engage in direct and strategic conversations with policymakers and the public.
About the National Consumer Law Center
Since 1969, the nonprofit National Consumer Law Center® (NCLC®) has worked for consumer justice and economic security for low-income and other disadvantaged people in the U.S. through its expertise in policy analysis and advocacy, publications, litigation, expert witness services, and training.
Prosperity Indiana is pleased to co-release with the Indiana Institute for Working Families and Indiana Youth Institute, Policy Brief: A Year in Review: Housing Instability Trends for Hoosier Families and Counties Most Affected by COVID-19. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated a pre-existing housing stability crisis in Indiana, with effects particularly concentrated among renter households, families with children, Black and brown Hoosiers, and low-income households. Throughout the first year of the pandemic, these Hoosier households were most likely to be affected by job and income loss and least likely to be able to stay current on housing payments. Therefore, they were most at risk of eviction or foreclosure.
After a year of economic disruptions, Indiana has experienced over 41,000 eviction filings at an average rate of over 750 per week, despite two eviction moratoria and two rounds of federally-funded emergency rental assistance. With the addition of a new state law that increases eviction powers and reduces local control over landlord-tenant relations, nearly one third of the state’s counties are now above pre-pandemic eviction filing rates, with the highest increases concentrated in Indiana’s smaller and more rural counties.
The report considers data from the weekly U.S. Census Household Pulse Survey, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s Unemployment Claims Monitor, and EvictionLab’s Eviction Tracking System to analyze the economic and social demographics and geographies of COVID-19 housing instability. Recognizing the significant federal resources becoming available to address COVID-related housing instability for renters concurrently with state and federal law and policies making eviction an increasingly available option for landlords, the brief also provides policy recommendations designed to inform Indiana’s state and federal policymakers regarding measures needed to rebuild housing stability and move towards long-term housing security.
Additionally, Prosperity Indiana published “Indiana’s Emergency Rental Assistance: Program Outlines and Recommendations for Equitable Outcomes.” Currently, there are seven emergency rental assistance programs across Indiana, including six local programs and one statewide program that serves Hoosiers that are not covered by the local programs. This overview reviews the requirements of each program and includes recommendations on maximizing the equity and efficiency of ERA programs.
At the end of a session like no other before it, the Indiana General Assembly largely demonstrated that it was not focused on ensuring basic needs for Hoosiers nor protecting resources for the community economic development sector and the communities it serves. A notable “bright spot” included winning a measure of housing protections for renters, instead of seeing a whole-cloth reversal of the governor’s 2020 veto of the “evictions bill” with no correcting trailer bill. However, due to the combination of advocacy efforts of Prosperity Indiana’s members and investments in recovery from the federal government, there is reason to be optimistic for the future of community development in Indiana for the remainder of 2021 and beyond.
As a benchmark for the review of the session found below, please refer back to Prosperity Indiana’s 2021 policy agenda, A Blueprint for Equitable Response, Recovery, and Rebuilding in Indiana. This agenda was developed in consultation with PI’s Board after a series of virtual regional member meetings with lawmakers to communicate the immediate and long-term needs of Hoosiers and their communities. PI’s members wanted policymakers to know that “in order to respond, recover, and rebuild from COVID-19, we must first have equitable policies that take care of the most vulnerable Hoosiers and their communities”. So with the directive to advocate for racial equity across all state and federal COVID-19 response and recovery policies, members urged policymakers to focus above all on these three priorities:
So, how did the Indiana General Assembly deliver on these priorities during this session? Let’s take a look.
On Thursday, April 22, the Indiana General Assembly departed the Statehouse for what observers are calling ‘Spring Adjournment’ rather than the typical term of adjourning Sine Die, an indication of the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic on the structure and content of the session. For much of the session, the public was not able to testify in person in the same room as committee members, large gatherings were not possible under safety precautions, and the typical interaction between legislators, constituents, and advocates was greatly disrupted. To ensure our members’ voices were heard, Prosperity Indiana conducted our first-ever virtual ‘Statehouse Week’ and mid-session update, in addition to action alerts, virtual press conferences, outdoor rallies, and presenting testimony on video to committees. The progress we made on our priority bills would not have been possible without the countless e-mails, phone calls, and sign-ons from members and partners throughout the state.
PI-sponsored legislation and high-priority bills:
SEA148 Override of Governor’s Veto (Sen. Blake Doriot) / HB1541 Landlord-Tenant Relations (Rep. Ethan Manning)
Despite those hundreds of calls, emails, and signatures, the General Assembly overrode Governor Holcomb’s veto of SEA148 on February 17, 2021. This made the law’s provisions, including the broad preemption of local ordinances affecting all aspects of the landlord-tenant relationship, effective immediately. However, we are grateful that legislators listened to the calls from PI and our partners in the Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition urging them to make improvements to the new law in ‘trailer bill’ HB1541. In its final form, HB1541 eliminates the provision of SEA148 allowing a landlord to ‘contract around’ anti-retaliation guarantees for tenants. Because form leases are generally ‘take it or leave it’ and are not up for negotiation, adding a provision to SEA 148 via HB 1541 that says the anti-retaliation language cannot be waived in any instance was necessary. Now, even by signing a written contract, residents cannot be stripped of their legally-protected rights against retaliation via a waiver clause. In addition, HB 1541 removes the broad provision in SEA 148 that nullified and preempted local ordinances that address “all other aspects of the landlord-tenant relationship” beyond those named in the law.
Even so, despite our testimony in House and Senate committees, HB1541 left several dangerous provisions of SEA148 in place, including seven new forms of ‘emergency possession’ that effectively allow expedited three-day evictions, including instances when the tenant is not at fault, as well as other loopholes in retaliation protections. HB1541 passed 96-0 in the House and 49-0 in the Senate, indicating unanimous support for fixing the problems in SEA148, even in limited form. See the Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition press release here.
HB1001 State Budget (Rep. Tim Brown)
The budget bill included $500 million for the renamed Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI), a program meant to fuel regional collaborations with opportunities for PI’s community economic development membership. However, despite a late revenue forecast that is $2 billion above previous projections, the budget bill decreased annual appropriations for the state’s Individual Development Account (IDA) programs from $874,645 in FY19-21 to $609,945 in FY21-23. The final version of HB1001 passed 96-2 in the House and 46-3 in the Senate.
SB214 Low-Income Housing (Sen. Travis Holdman)
PI testified in support of an early version of this bill, which in its final form reinstates provisions regarding eligibility for the property tax exemption for improvements on real property that are constructed, rehabilitated, or acquired for the purpose of providing low-income housing. The final bill also provides that payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTS) may be allowed from a property owner claiming such an exemption. The final vote on the bill in the House was 48-0 in the Senate and 94-0 in the House.
SB236 Land Banks (Sen. Tim Lanane)
SB236 would have increased the capacity of Indiana’s local land banks and increased the stock of affordable and available housing throughout the state. The bill would have allowed a county fiscal body to adopt an ordinance that requires 50% of the amount of property taxes paid on the tract to be transferred to the land bank, for the five years after a tract is purchased from the land bank. In addition, under SB236 a county executive would provide a land bank with a list of tracts that are delinquent on property taxes and have been offered for public sale at least twice and remain unsold; it would also permit the county executive to transfer its interest in a tract on the list to a land bank, if requested by the land bank no later than 30 days after it receives the list. PI testified in support of this bill, along with members and land bank supporters from across the state. Despite bipartisan authors, including the chairs of the House and Senate Local Government Committee where SB236 passed unanimously, the bill died after failing to be voted out of the House Ways and Means Committee.
HB1219 Various Housing Matters (Rep. Ed Clere)
Prosperity Indiana and our partners in the Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition worked with author Rep. Clere and co-authors of HB1219 to include provisions that would increase housing stability for at-risk Hoosiers during the COVID-19 pandemic and help those who’d fallen through the cracks to regain housing. These provisions would have created an eviction expungement process allowing tenants to expunge certain evictions from their court records; create a right for tenants to see their tenant screening records, if denied housing, to remedy and/or rectify inaccurate information; and create problem-solving housing courts to test effective remedies for tenants and landlords. Despite bipartisan authorship and support, the bill was not granted a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee.
HB1530 Housing Stability Task Force and Eviction Data (Rep. Sue Errington)
Rep. Errington’s HB1530 addressed two more housing stability priorities of PI and the Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition. The bill would have created a task force composed of landlords, tenants, public health experts, state officials, and other stakeholders to identify solutions to prevent evictions and foreclosures. The bill also would have required the state to include eviction and foreclosure data, as well as outcomes from Indiana’s housing stability efforts, on the state housing stability website. Despite bipartisan authorship and support, the bill was not granted a hearing in the House Government and Regulatory Reform Committee.
SB184 Small Loan Finance Charges (Sen. Greg Walker)
Supported by PI and partners in the Indiana Assets and Opportunities Network, Sen. Greg Walker’s SB184 would have capped payday loans at 36% APR. Despite bipartisan authorship and support, the bill was not granted a hearing in the Senate Insurance and Financial Institutions Committee.
The full list of bills that PI tracked this session across several issue categories, including all actions taken and final outcomes:
Although progress made for community economic development was limited this session, Prosperity Indiana thanks the General Assembly for those steps that were taken and thanks Governor Holcomb for signing them into law. Prosperity Indiana will continue working on the federal and administrative priorities of our 2021 policy agenda. Millions of federal dollars are coming to Indiana for relief, recovery, and rebuilding, including $448 million already available for seven Emergency Rental Assistance programs across the state and $168 million for the new Homeowner Assistance Fund from the American Rescue Plan act. Prosperity Indiana will continue to advocate and work with members and partners to ensure these funds reach the hardest-hit Hoosiers and communities throughout Indiana.
March 18, 2021
CONTACT: Andrew Bradley, Policy Director, Prosperity Indiana, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes, a new report released today by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) and Prosperity Indiana, finds a national shortage of nearly seven million affordable and available rental homes for extremely low-income (ELI) renter households, those with incomes at or below the poverty level or 30 percent of their area median income. There are just 37 affordable and available rental homes for every 100 ELI renter households nationwide. Seventy percent of the poorest renter households are severely housing cost-burdened, spending more than half of their incomes on housing, with little left over for other basic necessities. The report shows that, even before COVID-19 devastated many low-income households, they were already struggling to afford their rent. Every year, The Gap reports on the severe shortage of affordable rental homes available to extremely low-income families and individuals.
“While Indiana likes to tout being an affordable place to live, I think two questions need to be asked: for whom and compared to what? In looking at the data, what we see is how Indiana continues to fail our lowest-income renters, especially when compared to our peers. Only one Midwest state is less affordable than Indiana,” said Jessica Love, executive director of Prosperity Indiana.
In Indiana, only 75,219 affordable rental homes are available for the 202,171 extremely low-income Hoosier households. That means there are only 37 affordable and available rental homes for every 100 households with extremely low incomes, tied for the second-lowest rate among 12 Midwest states. Approximately 72 percent of Hoosier renters with extremely low incomes are severely cost burdened and at risk of homelessness, which is the second-highest rate in the Midwest.
According to NLIHC and Prosperity Indiana, without public subsidies, the private market does not provide an adequate supply of rental housing affordable to low-income households. Both groups note that, even if rents fall during an economic downturn, they will not fall sufficiently to provide extremely low-income renters with an adequate supply of affordable housing. They say a downturn often leads to property owners abandoning rental housing or converting it to other uses when rental income is too low to cover basic operating costs and maintenance, making the housing affordability crisis worse.
Love said, “What this new data says about Hoosiers is that our most vulnerable families remain at risk of housing instability, which impacts job stability, and now also public health, and threatens the state's economic recovery. We need our Congressional delegation to step up as champions for policies that help these Hoosiers experience housing affordability, not just short-term housing stability as part of an immediate rescue plan, but looking beyond the pandemic to real and lasting solutions.”
Both NLIHC and Prosperity Indiana advocate for increased production and preservation of affordable rental housing, an increase in rental assistance resources for lowest income households, a stabilization fund to prevent evictions, and stronger legal protections for renters.
For additional information, visit: https://nlihc.org/gap
The Indiana Association for Community Economic Development d/b/a Prosperity Indiana builds a better future for our communities by providing advocacy, leveraging resources, and engaging an empowered network of members to create inclusive opportunities that build assets and improve lives. Since its founding in 1986, Prosperity Indiana has grown to nearly 200 members from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.
By Natalie James, Coalition Builder
On Wednesday, March 10, 2021, Jacob Sipe, Executive Director of the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, announced that the State of Indiana’s portal for emergency rental and utility assistance is now open at IndianaHousingNow.org. The Indiana Emergency Rental Assistance program (IERA) will provide rent and utility assistance to eligible Hoosier families using $372 million of $448 million allocated to Indiana from Congressional COVID-19 relief passed by Congress in December 2020. The remaining $76 million will be administered by six city and county-based programs (see below).
One of the biggest questions is: who qualifies for rental assistance from the IERA? An eligible household under the IERA as defined by the U.S. Treasury includes renter households in which one or more people: qualifies for unemployment or has experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19; demonstrates a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability; has a household income at or below 80% of area median income (two-person household: $46,250; four-person household: $57,850; six-person household: $67,100).
This program is designed to assist households that are unable to pay rent and utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible renter households can receive up to 12 months of rental assistance and utility/home energy assistance. This includes a combination of past due rent incurred since April 1, 2020, and future months of rental assistance. The person filling out the application will be considered the head of household.
Utility assistance is also available for those eligible for the IERA program. As long as the utility is in the name of one of the tenants listed on the lease and the utility is not paid as part of the monthly rental payment, the applicant may receive utility assistance. Internet assistance is also available, with additional eligibility requirements outlined in the application.
Renters, housing providers, and community-based organizations can find more information at IndianaHousingNow.org in English and Spanish, including application materials, frequently asked questions, and assistance examples. The site also links to other resources for foreclosure prevention and consumer protection, home repair or modification, senior housing, housing for persons with disabilities, shelters, and fair housing.
Renter applicants must meet all of the above requirements in order to be considered for rental assistance. While landlord participation is not required in order for a renter to receive assistance, IHCDA will attempt to work with landlords to verify amounts due and to issue payments. For more information, visit the application portal. For assistance submitting the application call 211.
In addition to IERA, six Indiana cities and counties have received funding and will administer separate programs. These six areas include Elkhart County, Marion County, Hamilton County, St. Joseph County, City of Fort Wayne, and Lake County. Renter households living in these six areas MUST apply through their LOCAL PROGRAM and are NOT ELIGIBLE to apply for the IERA program administered by IHCDA.
State of Indiana: IndianaHousingNow.org or call 211
Elkhart County: www.elkhartcounty.com/rentalassistance
Marion County: www.indyrent.org
Hamilton County: www.HCTAIndiana.com
St. Joseph County: www.sjcindiana.com
City of Fort Wayne: www.fwcares.org
Lake County: www.LakeCountyIN.care
The state program, through IHCDA, will cover all areas in the state that do not have a local government receiving separate funds to distribute rental assistance.