Housing Coalition Applauds Creation of Indiana COVID-19 Rental Assistance Program and Extension of Eviction Pause Through July; Members Urge Governor to Create Rental Housing Task Force to Ensure Funds Reach Hardest Hit Hoosiers
The Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition commends Governor Eric Holcomb for heeding several of our recommendations to establish the ‘Indiana COVID-19 Rental Assistance Program’ and thanks him for announcing that he will extend his moratorium on residential evictions through July. The $25 million allocated by the state is estimated to serve 12,000 Hoosier renter households affected by the pandemic across 91 of the state’s 92 counties.
With Lt. Governor Crouch rightly acknowledging that “housing stability has never been more important” than during this public health crisis, and the estimate for rental housing need in the state exceeding 258,000 Hoosier renter households affected by the pandemic who will need emergency rental assistance this summer, it will take careful targeting to make sure those who need the resources most actually receive them. To address these concerns, we recommend a Rental Housing Stability Task Force to ensure the aid gets to the hardest-hit Hoosier communities and populations.
"Although we appreciate the significant step finally made today in the announcement of a statewide rental assistance program to help our Hoosier COVID-19 impacted renters, our state must do more. Current funding will only impact a small number of the anticipated Hoosier renters who are at risk of housing loss or the devastating effects of an eviction on their record. It is imperative that the state allocate additional funding and/or work at the federal level to secure additional needed renter assistance," stated Amy Nelson of the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana.
As announced, the program will provide up to $500 in assistance for four months, totaling a maximum of $2,000 in assistance to eligible renters to help cover past and ongoing rent payments or late fees. The program will also require participation of both tenants and landlords, who will agree not to evict for balance due for 45 days after the last month of assistance. Applications will be open at indianahousingnow.org starting July 13 and will be available to residents in any Indiana county except Marion County, where a local $15 million CARES Act-funded program will provide aid to renters.
Even when the new state program is considered in tandem with the known city rental assistance programs to date, an estimated 200,000 renters affected by COVID-19 may go unassisted without additional state resources allocated. State coordination around the various rental assistance programs would give Hoosiers a better understanding of the resources available and if the existing state programs will meet the demand.
For this reason, the Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition urges Governor Holcomb to use the time before this limited state program launches to establish an Indiana Rental Housing Stability Task Force with members that represent renters, housing providers and investors, and experts in the connections between housing and public health. Only by including the Hoosier communities and organizations most directly affected by COVID-19 housing instability will the state be able to ensure that resources are adequately allocated and targeted to those most in need. Members of the Coalition stand ready to serve and help advise this Task Force so that no Hoosier is evicted or made homeless due to the pandemic.
“We applaud Governor Holcomb’s steps to establish this much-needed program. It’s on-target to move the state in the right direction to ensure housing stability in response to COVID-19,” said Jessica Love, Executive Director of Prosperity Indiana. “Next we need to look factually at what’s happening on the ground and use the best data available to make sure we have enough resources to do the job right. That will mean Congress stepping up to provide the funding needed to complete what our state and local partners have started,” Love said.
“Black and Brown Hoosiers have been disproportionally affected by this pandemic and its effects on tenants’ housing stability,” said Derris Ross, Founder and CEO of The Ross Foundation and the Indianapolis Tenants Rights Union. “Providing them with a say in determining what happens to the resources used to prevent evictions is the least we can do to address the division, the trauma, and the violence within our communities,” Ross said.
About the Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition:
Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition (HHNC) was formed by members of Indiana’s housing security advocacy community in April 2020 to support advocacy and education related to housing and homelessness prevention in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Staffed by Prosperity Indiana through advocacy and coalition building grants from the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the Central Indiana Community Foundation, HHNC convenes partners from across Indiana to advocate for immediate, medium- and long-term housing stability policy solutions and conduct education and research to achieve federal, state, and local policies for an equitable response and recovery to the pandemic and beyond.
The HHNC Steering Committee is comprised of members from AARP Indiana, the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention & Prevention (CHIP), Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana, Family Promise of Greater Indianapolis, Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Indiana Institute for Working Families – INCAA, Prosperity Indiana, and The Ross Foundation.