FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 2, 2021
Contact: Natalie James | (317) 222-1221 x406| firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.