Policy News

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  • 08 Apr 2020 10:34 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Today, Prosperity Indiana submitted a letter on behalf of our network opposing the federal government’s proposed CRA rule change, and offering recommendations to instead strengthen our communities. In our letter, Prosperity Indiana made the following arguments opposing the CRA rule change:

    Prosperity Indiana appreciates the opportunity to comment regarding the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) proposed regulations regarding the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). Since 1996, banks have issued almost $2 trillion in loans and investments in low- and moderate-income communities, ensuring more individuals have the opportunity prosper and become homeowners, more businesses receive loans to grow and thrive, and more community development organizations can expand their work to revitalize neighborhoods. CRA is a critical tool to address equity in lending, access to credit, and investments in underserved communities.

    Prosperity Indiana is a network of nearly 200 organizations and individuals committed to advancing community economic development statewide. The focus of our efforts is to ensure everyone can enjoy equal economic and social opportunities and live in thriving communities. In carrying out this work, we know how critical CRA is to ensuring that areas and/or projects that would not otherwise receive investment can secure critical capital from banks through loans and investments for affordable housing and economic development. These investments and credit services spark neighborhood revitalization and help more Hoosiers achieve and maintain economic success.

    The timing of the closing of this comment period comes at an especially unfortunate time, as Indiana is under a public health emergency under the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused Prosperity Indiana and most of our member organizations to dramatically alter our business operations. Like many of our community economic development members we serve, Prosperity Indiana has been called upon to shift much of our focus to immediate needs brought about by the pandemic. Many of those members and their partners across Indiana who are on the front lines of serving their communities do not have the time or resources needed to provide comments to these proposed CRA rule changes in the middle of the pandemic. We therefore ask that you give additional consideration to the comments of the organizations who represent those addressing those hardest hit during this pandemic.

    With that in mind, we have strong concerns about how the proposed substantial revisions to the CRA’s regulations do not all appear to align with the intent of the Act. And while the CRA was established to address a legacy of redlining and divestment in low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities, the proposed changes raise concerns about how it will affect CRA’s charge to affirmatively meet the community needs for credit and services in LMI communities. Prosperity Indiana has identified core issues of critical concern in the NPR, which would result in diluting benefits for LMI communities and lead to exacerbating banking deserts for these communities. Prosperity Indiana has categorized the damaging impacts of the NPR into three key areas: what counts, how it counts, and where it counts.

    What counts: By broadening what bank activities count as CRA-qualifying and diluting the focus of bank activities on LMI consumers and communities, the changes would weaken the ability of the CRA to specifically target services to those LMI communities. Deleting ‘economic development’ & ‘revitalization/stabilization’ of LMI communities from the definition of community development would take emphasis away from rehabilitating communities impacted by the legacy of redlining and ensuring stability of those who would fall prey to it if regulations are weakened. Introducing a ‘non-exhaustive’ list of eligible activities that includes a definition of ‘infrastructure’ for activities that are not clearly limited to LMI communities (such as roads and even sports stadiums) would further lessen the impact of targeted investment. In addition, no longer considering key bank services (such as deposit accounts) as qualified activities could lead to proliferation of check-cashing, payday lending and other subprime services and further drive banking deserts if the NPR is finalized. And by counting financial education for all income levels and widening the definition of community development services to include all volunteer activities, the NPR would reduce the CRA’s intended focus and impact on LMI communities.

    Where it counts: Because the NPR limits consideration of bank branches more than under the current CRA service test, it would introduce uncertain effects for banks and the communities, non-profits, and individuals they serve in Indiana. And while assessment areas are updated in ways that aim to account for the proliferation of internet-based banks, there is much that is left vague or unknown about how the new regulations would assign deposits collected via the internet to branches. The NPR also notes that there is an allowance for credit for qualifying activities conducted outside of bank assessment areas. We continue to have concerns about how these changes will impact investment in small non-profits in Indiana.

    How it counts: The proposal dramatically and irresponsibly expands what activities would be eligible for CRA credit. CRA serves Indiana’s communities by driving resources – we otherwise could not access – to places where they are needed. These resources address the financial and community development needs identified and prioritized by local communities. Switching to a “non-exhaustive list” of eligible activities – to include infrastructure, transportation, and even sports stadiums – removes Indiana’s community voices from determining our own needs.

    Under this NPR, retail lending analysis would count for much less under the new proposed exams, which could exacerbate banking deserts. Potential impacts of a ‘one ratio test’ include a reduction in valuing retail branches in LMI communities and the potential to encourage an over-reliance on the largest and easiest deals at the expense of small-dollar business and home mortgage lending in LMI communities and a reduction in partnerships with small non-profits who make significant local impact in LMI communities. The regulations would also result in the lack of differentiation for asset classes, meaning state or regional banks are being compared to the largest banks on performance.

    This single-ratio approach completely disregards whether the community development and financial needs of an area are being served by the bank or its investments. And as a result, the nearly 200 organizations that make up Prosperity Indiana’s membership, that have served our neighborhoods for years, and whose experience and expertise is seriously considered as part of the current CRA examination process, will be rendered voiceless. We would no longer be able to identify and prioritize our needs. Nor would our members and partners be taken as seriously by examiners when bank actors behave inappropriately in our community.

    The single ratio is a deeply flawed concept. This was made clear during previous public comment periods. Yet it still remains part of this proposed rule. Please listen to our members from across Indiana during this period. The single ratio must be discarded.

    Further, the rule proposes that a bank must meet investment benchmarks in only a “significant portion” of its assessment areas in order to receive a satisfactory or outstanding rating. The rule suggests that a “significant portion” be defined as something more than 50 percent.

    That approach would legalize and encourage redlining! Communities like those that our members represent across the entire state of Indiana will be in the areas that are left behind. Permitting such behavior would bring us back to an era where financial institutions had the option to draw red lines around—and deny financial services to—poor neighborhoods and all neighborhoods of color. Except this time, it’s worse because we understand, yet choose to ignore, history.

    The OCC and FDIC acting without the participation of the Federal Reserve risks producing three separate sets of CRA regulations. That makes everyone’s job more complicated, less transparent, and results in confusion. And in the end, Indiana’s communities will lose.

    The problems of the single ratio, the overly broad definitions of CRA-eligible investments, the gutting of communities’ voices, the speedy rule-making process, the credibility gap created by the Federal Reserve’s absence, and the lack of good faith and outreach from the OCC that drove this reckless proposal make it beyond repair.

    Because the CRA was originally enacted to end redlining, the primary goal of CRA modernization should continue to prioritize the problem CRA was intended to fix. Above all, it is critical for any CRA modernization to preserve the original intent of the CRA. But unfortunately, by damaging what counts in the CRA, where it counts, and how it counts, this proposal prioritizes policy compliance over impact and outcomes for the LMI families and communities that Prosperity Indiana and its members serve. On behalf of the low- and moderate-income people and places Prosperity Indiana serves, we ask that you please discard this proposal and start again. But if this rule does move forward, please keep our recommendations for Indiana’s communities at the forefront of the final rules.

    Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of these comments.


  • 03 Apr 2020 11:49 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Updating Indiana’s COVID-19 Housing Response

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    April 3, 2020

    Contact: Jessica Love, Executive Director, executivedirector@prosperityindiana.org, 317-222-1221 x402

    Andrew Bradley, Policy Director, abradley@prosperityindiana.org, 317-222-1221 x403

    In less than a month since Governor Eric Holcomb issued Executive Order 20-02, declaring a Public Health Emergency for Coronavirus disease on March 6, 2020, the world around us has drastically changed. This includes how the state has responded to the pandemic’s effects on housing, landlord-tenant relations, and evictions and foreclosure. And just as the state has adopted an approach of #INthistogether to successfully weather the long-term impact of the crisis, Indiana must also use the policy tools at its disposal to craft a longer-term housing security response that keeps Hoosier families secure over the months to come.

    Following the original declaration of Public Health Emergency, Governor Holcomb became one of the first state leaders to help keep residents secure at home by issuing a Temporary Prohibition on Eviction and Foreclosures through Executive Order 20-06 on March 19. Combined with the Governor’s veto of the eviction bill SEA 148, these executive actions helped relay a sense of calm and stability for the more than two million Hoosiers who rent – over 30 percent of the state’s population. However, the pause in evictions is currently limited both in time – tied to the Public Health Emergency and set to expire with that emergency order by April 6 unless extended – and in scope. The scope limitation results from the order saying no provision “shall be construed as relieving any individual of their obligations to pay rent” or other obligations under a tenancy or mortgage.

    But just as Governor Holcomb is expected to extend the duration of the original public health emergency to reflect the ongoing timeline of the pandemic, so too should he adjust Indiana’s housing response and executive orders to reflect the evolving facts on the ground, aligned with policy tools at his disposal. Here are several ways Governor Holcomb can ensure that the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t create a housing and eviction crisis before the economic effects of the emergency subside.

    • Extend the Prohibition on Eviction and Foreclosures for all Hoosiers to match the moratorium for renters in homes covered by a federally-backed mortgage. Currently this moratorium stands at July 25, 2020, which is 120 days from March 27, the date when President Trump signed the CARES Act into law. Setting Indiana’s moratorium to match the federal date will provide additional security and predictability for renters as the pandemic continues to grow. It should be extended further, if facts on the ground warrant.
    • Create a ‘Hardest Hit 2.0’ fund to help Hoosiers, whose incomes have been impacted by the pandemic, stay above water in their housing through the extended emergency order. Pair already available federal and state resources together to allow affected individuals to apply for rent assistance. These resources include CDBG funds that allow for “emergency grant payments made over a period of up to three consecutive months to the provider of such items or services on behalf of an individual or family” at 80% Area Median Income or below. In addition, the Governor should use his authority to ensure Township Poor Relief Funds are being fully utilized and consider ways to direct part of the state surplus ‘rainy day’ funds to cover housing during the extended emergency. Reasonable parameters (such as COVID-19 related unemployment insurance claims) should keep eligibility as simple as possible.
    • Reimburse landlords who do not evict hardest hit tenants for six months after the eviction moratorium is lifted. Use market-based tools and other forms of compensation, such as tax credits, forgiving state property taxes, stipends, etc., to encourage landlords to work proactively to keep renters housed after the public health emergency is over. Support these efforts by providing courts with additional tools to urge mediation and payment plans to avoid evictions.

    Now is the time for Indiana to take active steps to ensure that the tens of thousands of Hoosiers whose employment has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic do not see the economic fallout continue to snowball into the loss of stable housing. Clear, decisive steps to utilize available resources to keep Hoosiers in their homes and their heads above water could make the difference in getting Indiana past this crisis in the long run.

    ###

    About Indiana Association for Community Economic Development D/B/A Prosperity Indiana

    Prosperity Indiana is a statewide membership organization for the individuals and organizations strengthening Hoosier communities. 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 approximately 200 members from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

  • 25 Mar 2020 6:45 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

    March 25, 2020

    Contact: Jessica Love, Executive Director

    executivedirector@prosperityindiana.org, 317-222-1221 x402

    Andrew Bradley, Policy Director

    abradley@prosperityindiana.org, 317-222-1221 x403

    Housing Advocates Thank Governor Holcomb for Protecting Hoosier Renters with Veto of SEA 148

    INDIANAPOLIS – Prosperity Indiana thanks Governor Holcomb for listening to our call to ensure housing stability remains a long-term priority in the Hoosier state with his veto of SEA 148. During this time, when the state’s economic and housing future faces uncertainty in the length and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hoosier renters will not have to additionally worry about the “dangerous, unvetted language” in this legislation or the prospect of new forms of eviction and retaliation that the act could have brought.

    Prosperity Indiana Executive Director Jessica Love said, “We applaud Governor Holcomb for his leadership in stopping this sweeping legislation, during what became an unusually difficult season for our state. We anticipate and look forward to working with impacted parties – those in support of and opposing SEA 148 – next session. By then, we should have a better grasp on what housing stability looks like for the foreseeable future for Hoosiers in the aftermath of COVID-19. After we survive this pandemic, I think we’ll all have a greater appreciation for safe and stable housing.”

    Before its veto, SEA 148 would have expanded the remedy for emergency possession to include cases where the tenant is not at fault and limited tenants’ protections from retaliation by landlords, among other measures. And while the Governor’s executive order temporarily pauses evictions and foreclosures during the state of emergency, once lifted, SEA 148 would have exposed the more than two million Hoosiers who rent – over 30 percent of the state’s population – to weakened protections from bad-actor landlords. In addition, it would have nullified positive protections from cities and local governments.

    By vetoing SEA 148, Governor Holcomb prevents this bill from undermining his administration’s efforts to date to address the social determinants of health, which specifically includes stable housing. The bill also would have undercut the results of existing state efforts to increase access to recovery housing and workforce housing, as well as IHCDA programs, including the Housing First model and Permanent Supportive Housing Institute and the Landlord Mitigation Reserve Program and Reserve Fund.

    Now freed from the exacerbated threat of SEA 148, Indiana can commit state resources and work with statewide partners to help estimate the number of Hoosiers who will be have their housing impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, measure the shortfall of resources and services they face, and begin to work with community-based organizations and service providers on mitigation efforts.

    Love said, “In addition to showing our appreciation to the Governor, we thank the hundreds of Prosperity Indiana members and other statewide organizations and individuals who called and wrote to voice their opposition to this legislation. While their voices were shut out of the democratic process for this bill, their advocacy and calls upon the Governor helped him grasp just how many Hoosiers were counting on his leadership on this issue at this critical moment. Prosperity Indiana and our members stand ready to assist the state in addressing the needs of the more than two million Hoosier renters, as this public health crisis continues to unfold.”

    ###

    About Indiana Association for Community Economic Development D/B/A Prosperity Indiana

    Prosperity Indiana is a statewide membership organization for the individuals and organizations strengthening Hoosier communities. 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 approximately 200 members from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.


  • 23 Mar 2020 9:40 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Prosperity Indiana Advocacy Update

    What had already been a challenging session of the General Assembly for Prosperity Indiana members has now been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic that is spreading across Indiana. In light of this new public health crisis, the failure of the Assembly to take up several positive bills and its passing of SEA 148 takes on new urgency for millions of Hoosier renters. Prosperity Indiana is currently leading a group of statewide organizations to ask Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb to veto SEA 148, citing the bill’s “dangerous, unvetted language that would worsen Indiana’s affordable housing and eviction crisis.” And while Prosperity Indiana thanks Governor Holcomb for listening to our call to ensure Hoosiers' housing is protected during the current public health emergency by issuing an executive order to temporarily  halt evictions and foreclosures, we call on him to veto SEA 148 to make sure housing stability remains a long-term priority in the Hoosier state. See our statement and letter to the Governor  and please sign on here if you haven’t already. We are also monitoring additional state and federal policy fallout from the COVID-19 crisis and will keep members current as updates unfold.

    End-of-Session Update

    The Indiana General Assembly adjourned Sine Die on Wednesday, March 11. This session proved to be challenging in terms of bills that we supported passing one house with bipartisan votes before dying in committee, and a bill that we strongly opposed passed. While we are disappointed with the overall outcome of session, we are grateful for all of the support that we received through our colleagues and members via testimony, legislator meetings, attendance at our Statehouse Day and the press conference, as well as countless e-mails, phone calls and sign-ons to our letter opposing SB340/SEA148. Below is a summary of where all of our priority bills landed:

    SB340/SB148

    Originally, language was inserted into SB340, which was previously uncontroversial and which we previously weren’t watching, in the House Judiciary Committee without any advance notice and with little testimony in opposition. The language was targeted to preempt municipalities from enacting ordinances regarding landlord-tenant relationships and making other changes to the state’s landlord-tenant laws. During conference committee, this language was stripped from SB340 due to lack of germaneness, and, with a few changes, was inserted into SB148. This bill, which passed the Senate 29-19 and the House 64-32 and is now headed to Governor Holcomb’s desk, contains the following concerning provisions:

    • Preempts cities from enacting any ordinances that attempt to address the landlord-tenant relationship
    • Limits “rights of the parties,” meaning landlords are not required to inform tenants of their rights under the law                                                  
    • Expands the remedy for emergency possession to include cases where the tenant is not at fault
    • Limits tenants’ protections from retaliation by landlords

    HB1191 Land Contracts (Rep. Ed Clere) –
    After passing the House by a bipartisan 84-9 vote, HB1191 died in the Senate after failing to receive a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee. It contained provisions to ensure that sellers disclose important information, such as property defects or existing liens, to buyers and that contracts are recorded. The bill also included a provision that gives buyers a 3-day period in which to change their mind on the contract, if they find that problems exist with the property that weren’t disclosed.

    SB123 Affordable and Workforce Housing Incentives (Sen. Travis Holdman) –
    After passing the Senate by a bipartisan 48-1 vote, SB123 died in the House after not receiving a hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee. Initially, the bill contained provisions to create a state tax credit to pair with a federal 4% Low Income Housing Tax Credit award for the development of affordable housing. However, the bill was essentially stripped via amendment and changed to require a study and report by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA) as to what affordable housing incentives exist in other states and what types of incentives should be offered in Indiana.

    SB327 Reporting of Consumer Loans by Unlicensed Lenders (Sen. Andy Zay) –
    After passing out of the Senate with a vote of 47-2, SB327 died without receiving a hearing in the House. It required certain persons that are not licensed with the Department of Financial Institutions under the Uniform Consumer Credit Code to report certain information regarding each consumer loan made to a resident of Indiana.

    SB395 Uniform Consumer Credit Code (Sen. Eric Bassler) –

    After extensive negotiations in conference committee, Sen. Bassler concurred with House changes to his original bill, which will result in additional loans at an effective 72% APR.

    Bills that We Were Tracking that Died Without an Initial Hearing

    HB1012 Repeal of Housing Restriction on Local Government (Rep. Chris Chyung) –
    Repeals a statute that prohibits a county, city, town, or township from requiring a landlord to participate in a federal Section 8 housing assistance program or similar housing program.

    HB1103 Tenant’s Rights (Rep. Robin Shackleford) –
    Contains various provisions relating to termination of rental agreements and tenant rights when landlords fail to remedy property issues that affect the health and safety of the tenant.

    SB26 Small Loan Finance Charges (Sen. Greg Walker) –
    Changes the incremental finance charge limits for small loans to a maximum 36% rate.

    SB204 Notice of Lease Termination for Failure to Pay Rent (Sen. Mark Messmer) –
    Changes the notice period for the termination of a lease from 10 days to 3 days.

    SB253 Principal Dwelling Land Contracts (Sen. J.D. Ford) –
    Contains provisions related to defining “principal dwelling land contract”, disclosures by the seller to the buyer, and a buyer’s right to the homestead deduction regardless of being conveyed the title.

    SB329 Supervised Loans (Sen. Andy Zay) –
    Changes current rate from 25% to 36% on supervised loans, repeals current limitations on charges that lenders contract for and receive and specifies replacement limitations, and does not allow lenders to solicit loans using a negotiable check, facsimile or other negotiable instrument.

    SB359 Landlord-Tenant Relations (Sen. Jim Merritt) –
    Amends current statute to require a landlord to provide to a tenant 10-day written notice of their right to cure – specifying all rent and late fees due – prior to initiating an eviction, regardless of lease types. Also includes provisions that written notice must be provided 60 days prior to any lease changes or increase in rent.

    SB391 Property Matters (Sen. Mike Bohacek) –
    Contains several provisions that look to limit tenants’ rights and processes for complaints about habitability, including reporting to the county prosecutor any individuals who make false claims and requiring notice from a health officer documenting a public health law or rule violation before a court may issue an order related to the property. (Current law requires reliable information be provided for a court order.)

    SB442 Residential Landlord-Tenant Matters (Sen. Eddie Melton) –
    Contains provisions to increase a tenant’s right to cure from 10 to 14 days, allows a tenant to withhold rent when a landlord does not remedy certain habitability issues, and establishes the Indiana Eviction Prevention and Reduction Program.

  • 19 Mar 2020 7:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Contact: Jessica Love, Executive Director, executivedirector@prosperityindiana.org, 317-222-1221 x402

    Andrew Bradley, Policy Director, abradley@prosperityindiana.org, 317-222-1221 x403

    INDIANAPOLIS – Prosperity Indiana thanks Governor Holcomb for listening to our call to ensure Hoosiers' housing is protected during the current public health emergency by issuing an Executive Order on Temporary Prohibitions on Evictions and Foreclosures. But beyond this response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Prosperity Indiana calls on him to veto SEA 148 to make sure housing stability remains a long-term priority in the Hoosier state.

    While the order provides a critical, temporary reprieve on evictions for the more than 30 percent of Indiana’s population who rents their homes, it does nothing to lessen the permanent damage that SEA 148 would inflict on the nearly two million Hoosier renters once the order is lifted.

    Prosperity Indiana Executive Director Jessica Love said, “We applaud Governor Holcomb for recognizing that Hoosiers who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 will be sheltering in their homes throughout the duration of the pandemic. The governor clearly understands that an eviction would subject those individuals, and Indiana at large, to the ‘serious threat to the health, welfare, and safety’ that the coronavirus poses, should they be removed from their homes.

    “However, housing stability is not a one-time health concern that only matters during a pandemic like we face today. Housing has impacts on the health and safety of families year-round, and this health crisis should only shine a light on the larger problems Hoosiers are facing related to widespread evictions in this state.”

    Because the COVID-19 pandemic will have effects on Indiana’s economy and preexisting affordable housing and evictions crises that will long outlast any temporary measure, Prosperity Indiana and its partners in speaking out against the bill remain concerned about the dangerous, unvetted language in SEA 148. All of the concerns that the hundreds of statewide organizations and individuals who spoke out against SEA 148, after being shut out of the legislative process, still stand.

    Love said, “Although tenants who express concerns about unaddressed habitability issues– while spending more time than ever in their homes to avoid or recover from COVID-19 – will temporarily receive a reprieve from evictions, the day will come when angry, bad actor landlords can retaliate once again. So, we are looking to the governor now to see beyond the present health crisis and respond to this bad bill with a veto today.”

    See the original letter calling on the Governor to veto SEA 148 along with supporting documents: https://www.prosperityindiana.org/Policy-News/8840057

    ###

    About Indiana Association for Community Economic Development D/B/A Prosperity Indiana

    Prosperity Indiana is a statewide membership organization for the individuals and organizations strengthening Hoosier communities. 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 approximately 200 members from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.


  • 18 Mar 2020 12:20 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Contact: Jessica Love, Executive Director, executivedirector@prosperityindiana.org, 317-222-1221 x402

    Andrew Bradley, Policy Director, abradley@prosperityindiana.org, 317-222-1221 x403

    INDIANAPOLIS – On Tuesday, March 17, 18 statewide organizations asked Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb to veto SEA 148, citing the bill’s “dangerous, unvetted language that would worsen Indiana’s affordable housing and eviction crisis.” The timing of this bill could not be worse because it could have a disastrous effect on the health and safety of renters at a time when the COVID-19 coronavirus has already caused a public health crisis of its own.

    “While those who are fortunate enough to do so are currently working from the comforts of home to flatten the curve for COVID-19, sadly, many Hoosiers’ housing stability will be shaken further by this bill – when we can least afford it as a state – if the governor signs it into law,” said Jessica Love, Executive Director of Prosperity Indiana.

    The letter to the governor comes from affordable housing developers, religious groups, medical and legal assistance providers, and organizations representing older Hoosiers, veterans, domestic violence survivors, the homeless, and other vulnerable populations. It follows a call from nearly 300 organizations and individuals statewide who signed a letter to the General Assembly opposing the legislation, which first appeared as a surprise last-minute amendment to SB 340, and that was passed without standard public deliberation or debate during the last two weeks of session.

    SEA 148 is a substantial change in law that affects the lives of over 30 percent of Indiana’s population, the more than two million people who rent their homes. Research shows that access to affordable housing acts as a “vaccine” that paves the way to health and economic mobility, while housing insecurity and homelessness negatively impact the health, safety, education and development of children. As the COVID-19 pandemic sweeps across the state, SEA 148 would undermine public health by undercutting access to safe and stable housing.

    Advocates point to existing Indiana efforts, such as the Governor’s recovery housing and workforce housing initiatives, and to provision of safe and stable housing as a means of improving health outcomes and decreasing health costs, as positive steps for Hoosiers. SEA 148 would hinder Indiana’s ability to reach the ‘next level’ of public health by substantially changing existing landlord-tenant law to diminish state protections for renters. Also, stripping local governments of the ability to take action to improve housing quality and stabilize rental housing, unless specifically permitted by the state legislature, will create dangerous delays that could worsen significant health conditions already prevalent in the state. These include rates of asthma, lead poisoning, mental illness, maternal mortality, and opioid-related deaths.

    Changes to Indiana’s landlord-tenant law in previous years followed full vetting in both the House and Senate after many compromises from representatives of both landlords and tenants were made. But this year, the section of SEA 148 impacting tenants was not afforded any full or fair democratic process, and no opportunity for formal input by those concerned was provided. As a result, no balance in the language for renters was achieved. Specifically, this language was never filed as a bill and never heard in any committee of the Senate. It was not posted for hearing in the House to be considered as an amendment to its original bill. The language of this amendment was not available to the public until after it passed out of committee that same day.  When the language was later moved to SEA 148 in conference committee, the Senate conference committee chair initially announced there would be no public testimony allowed. Under protest from other conferees, still only two people were allowed to speak. After questions generally relating to how many ordinances would be affected – to which no one knew the answer, the hearing abruptly ended.

    The imbalanced bill – favoring landlords – allows accelerated emergency eviction procedures to be used in an expanded class of cases. This includes instances in which a tenant – having committed no violation of law or lease – can be evicted in three days. It also omits standard code provisions that prevent landlords from simply eliminating or changing the limited retaliation protections afforded by SEA 148 through a non-negotiable lease. It further arbitrarily preempts the ability of all local governments throughout the state to regulate any aspect of the landlord-tenant relationship. These measures and allowances are considered extreme, especially since they were passed without having studied or surveyed existing local ordinances and regulations throughout the state to determine how they would be nullified.

    According to the group calling for the veto, “Given the potential damage to Indiana’s housing and public health, it is imperative that Governor Holcomb not allow SEA 148 to become law. Legislation this significant, which impacts millions of Hoosiers across all walks of life, should be studied, examined, and debated, through a truly democratic process.”

    Resources: 

    Letter Urging Gov Holcomb to Veto SEA148

    Letter to Senate Opposing SB340 (signed by 300+ statewide orgs and individuals)

    Legal Concerns of SEA148

    Evicted- Hoosiers in Housing Crisis

    Health and Housing in Indiana

    Hoosier Housing Crisis: By the Numbers

    City of Fort Wayne SB340 Opposition Letter

    Dr. Sarah Stelzner Statement for Press Conference on Landlord Tenant Issue

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    About Indiana Association for Community Economic Development D/B/A Prosperity Indiana

    Prosperity Indiana is a statewide membership organization for the individuals and organizations strengthening Hoosier communities. 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 approximately 200 members from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.


  • 02 Mar 2020 9:31 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    INDIANAPOLIS, IN – Today, the Indiana House is scheduled to vote on SB 340. A letter with signatures from nearly 300 organizations and individuals from around Indiana has been sent to the Speaker Brian Bosma and members of the Indiana House of Representatives voicing concern and urging a “No” vote on SB 340. This opposition is in light of the surprise last-minute amendment to the bill on February 24 that will have a significant negative impact on renters across the state.

    Although SB 340’s amendment appears to have been in response to the City of Indianapolis’ new Housing Initiative, it will have statewide impact and applicability. SB 340 gives preference to landlords in a variety of ways. Most sweepingly, it takes away a city’s ability to establish landlord-tenant laws. As a result, it decreases a city’s ability to address disclosure and retaliation violations through fines, allowing more types of retaliation against tenants to occur when reporting concerns. It also awards landlords sued for retaliation, who are successful in court, attorney fees plus damages. In contrast, tenants who win a retaliation suit against their landlord only get to stay in their rental unit under the existing terms and receive one month of rent in compensation, while absorbing all of their legal fees associated with the retaliation case. One of the most basic rights outlawed by the bill is a city’s ability to require that landlords provide renters with information on their legal rights as tenants. SB 340 also makes other problematic changes that overwhelmingly favor landlords.

    Keith Broadnax, Senior Vice President of Business Development at Cinnaire, stated his concerns, “As an investor, lender, and advocate for affordable housing in Indiana, Cinnaire strongly opposes SB 340 and encourages a ‘No’ vote on it. This bill will be detrimental to our Hoosier families who are already struggling to support themselves. The bill removes any fines imposed on landlords who retaliate against tenants and further limits the actions of local authorities to require that tenants be informed of the basic housing rights afforded to them by law.”

    Jessica Love, Executive Director of Prosperity Indiana, said, “At Prosperity Indiana, our work is built around strengthening our communities, and bills like this only tear away at the fabric of family life and local governing power. SB 340 will clip every community’s opportunity to address the bad actors who are only adding to housing instability in this state. To counteract what legislators are being told by some is good public policy, members of our General Assembly need to hear from everyone who believes that SB 340 is an overreach. If not stopped, the bill could be adopted this week. So, the time to speak out is now. Please contact your representative immediately and ask them to vote no and kill this bill.”

    Dr. Sarah Stelzner, a pediatrician and legislative chairman of the Indiana American Academy of Pediatrics shared, “We know these families and children are most vulnerable to experiencing significant health impacting issues in their rental homes, such as mold, infestations, high utility bills, and poorly maintained infrastructure. These families often fear or have experienced retaliation, including eviction, for attempting to address any problems and often have inadequate representation in court. Any eviction filed against them, whether there is a judgement or not, stays on their record and makes it even harder for a family to find quality, affordable housing in the future.  We need to work to reverse the trends that have caused a dramatic increase in evictions, as well as unsafe and unhealthy housing, in a number of Indiana cities and towns. This bill seeks to undermine even local efforts to address rental habitability concerns and retaliatory evictions, which we know are leading social determinants of health.”

    “SB 340 is one of the most harmful housing bills I have seen in my over 20-year housing career,” stated Amy Nelson, Executive Director of the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana (FHCCI). “Not only does SB 340 modify current law to take away any fines for those landlords who retaliate against tenants with just cause, but it even goes so far as to say that a City cannot even demand that tenants be informed of their most basic housing rights under law, amongst other changes.”

    Info on SB 340: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2020/bills/senate/340

    Don’t Know Who Your Legislator Is? Go to Find Politicians in our Advocacy Action Center: https://www.prosperityindiana.org/Action-Center

    Learn more on the Prosperity Indiana’s Public Policy Page: https://www.prosperityindiana.org/Policy-Priorities

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    About Indiana Association for Community Economic Development D/B/A Prosperity Indiana

    Prosperity Indiana is a statewide membership organization for the individuals and organizations strengthening Hoosier communities. 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 approximately 200 members from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.


  • 25 Feb 2020 9:31 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On Monday, a last-minute amendment to SB 340 passed in the last committee hearing for the House Judiciary committee for this session. The amendment dramatically changes Indiana Landlord/Tenant Law. These harmful changes will stop the current effort in Indianapolis (and possibly other cities) to address the serious rental habitability problems, lack of adequate representation of tenants, and landlord retaliation that occurs when tenants complain about violations of law. 

    However, SB 340 goes even further. The bill:


  • 24 Jan 2020 10:35 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    What a busy week!  Prosperity Indiana worked with our colleagues on three bills this week dealing with consumer lending, landlord tenant issues and land contracts.  Here is where things stand on those bills:

    SB395 Uniform Consumer Credit Code (Sen. Eric Bassler) –

    This bill was heard in Senate Insurance and Financial Institutions Committee on Wednesday and Mindi Goodpaster testified in opposition on behalf of Prosperity Indiana.  The bill would create a flat 36% rate on any loan regardless of size (think auto loans and second mortgages) and does not address a 36% cap on payday loans, which is what we have been advocating for.  The committee is holding the bill and considering three possible amendments introduced by Senator Walker for vote next week.  One of the amendments would create an annual cap of four payday loans per year and a maximum of eight in a lifetime.  We will wait to see how the bill will be amended before refining our position.

    SB391 Property Matters (Sen. Mike Bohacek) –

    SB 391 was supposed to be heard in Senate Judiciary on Wednesday, but at the last minute was held and the committee is considering amendments for hearing and discussion next week.  The bill contains several concerning provisions that look to limit tenants’ rights and processes for complaints about habitability.  Prosperity Indiana is working with Senator Bohacek to make changes to the bill that address those provisions.

    HB1191 Land Contracts and Landlord-tenant Matters (Rep. Ed Clere) –

    HB1191 is scheduled for a hearing on Monday, Jan 27 at 10:00 a.m. in House Judiciary Committee.  The bill is a streamlined version of HB1495, which passed out of the House in 2019 but died in the Senate.  In an effort to address some of the concerns that killed the bill last year, the main provisions of HB1191 include disclosures by landlords to tenants on liens, habitability issues, etc. and recording requirements so that tenants will be able to make better informed decisions about the property they want to buy and give them further legal recourse in case issues arise with the property.  HB1191 will be amended to take out the landlord-tenant provisions to streamline the bill to improve its likelihood for passage.  Jessica Love will be testifying on behalf of Prosperity Indiana in support of the bill.

    With the end of the first half of session nearing, committees will be wrapping up their hearings next week.  This means that those bills that have been heard will be voted on in their chamber of origin and moving on to the second chamber for consideration.  Those bills that did not receive a hearing will be considered dead.  While not all of Prosperity Indiana’s priorities received hearings thus far, we are encouraged that HB1191 is moving forward and are hopeful about its passage this session.  We will continue to keep you informed and will let you know how you can take action to make this happen. 


    Click here to read our Priority Legislation Report 1-24-2020.pdf


  • 15 Jan 2020 7:38 PM | Anonymous

    Another Statehouse Day is on the books and the 2020 short session of the Indiana General Assembly speeding along! This week, members walked the halls and advocated for critical policy priorities that impact their communities and clients. Legislators engaged in great conversations about the bills most important to our efforts and why it is critical state legislators take action to increase renter protections and reduce evictions, implement consumer protections to combat predatory lending, and increase access to and the supply of affordable housing. Key handouts that outline each of our top priorities can be found below.

    We encourage you to contact your legislators today and speak up in support of these bills. You can find their contact information by entering your zip code on our advocacy action page.

    To follow these and other top bills we are supporting, monitoring, or concerned about this session, click here for our bill tracker. This link will automatically be updated as the final bills are added this week.

    We thank our members who traveled near and far to make their voices heard. Having policymakers hear from constituents about how these proposals impact work you do is exceptionally powerful.


       
       


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Prosperity Indiana
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Indianapolis, IN 46204 
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