FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 17, 2021
CONTACT: Andrew Bradley | (317) 222-1221 x403| email@example.com
Housing coalition: General Assembly leadership must bring solutions to the table to fix newly-enacted SEA 148
INDIANAPOLIS – The Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition is disappointed that the General Assembly has completed the override of Governor Holcomb’s veto of SEA 148 without input from stakeholders who advocate on behalf of the 30% of Hoosiers who rent their homes and without a plan to mitigate the immediate and long-term damage it will create. The Coalition urges the General Assembly to use its remaining time this session to implement common-sense solutions that have been left out of the discussion to date.
Throughout SEA 148’s 11-month ordeal, the process for creating language that would affect approximately 2 million renters was never open to their contributions. No stakeholders that represent the interests of tenants or their communities was allowed to be party to the original language of SEA 148 or the two ‘trailer bills’ which, despite claims to the contrary, leave the new law overly broad and unbalanced in scope and now made law at exactly the wrong time.
In the short term, SEA 148 becomes effective immediately and will allow seven new forms of expedited evictions in the middle of a glacial winter and an ongoing deadly pandemic. SEA 148 specifies that landlords may now use emergency possessory actions (evicting tenants in three days), not just for destroying property. In fact, reporting code violations is now a legitimate reason for a three-day eviction.
We now know that every new eviction spreads COVID-19 wherever it happens: in rural, suburban, or urban communities, wherever evicted families are forced to double up in others’ homes or sleep in overburdened congregate housing like homeless shelters. And due to holes in the CDC’s eviction moratorium, 900 Hoosier households are already being evicted each week.
In the long term, SEA 148 locks the full state into the lowest common denominator of housing standards and tenant protections. Starting today, the new law voids substantial portions of local ordinances enacted to reduce evictions, promote housing stability, and enable better enforcement of housing codes to improve housing conditions. It also replaces local anti-retaliation ordinances and codifies loopholes in anti-retaliation protections.
In addition to these damages to Hoosiers’ public health and tenant rights, the Coalition agrees with the 65 Indiana business and community leaders who wrote “overriding the governor’s veto of legislation overturning local ordinances on renter-landlord relations [undermines] reasonable housing close to employment centers [and keeps] more residents away from work and living in poverty." With SEA 148 taking away tenant protections and employment opportunities throughout Indiana, it is our local economies and service providers who will bear the brunt, decreasing from their capacity to help Indiana recover from the pandemic and rebuild economic growth.
To remedy the negative impacts that will be felt by Hoosier renters as a result of this law, the Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition has developed a list of simple fixes that would address flaws in the new law regarding expedited evictions and loopholes in retaliatory protections and would allow those who slip through the cracks to regain stable housing.
“It is now on the General Assembly to address these issues before the end of this legislative session,” said Jessica Love, executive director of Prosperity Indiana and HHNC member.
“We are prepared to offer our recommendations for a more balanced law. The solutions are at the ready. Now it’s time to see leadership bring those solutions to the table.”
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.
Prosperity Indiana submitted comments regarding the Federal Reserve Board’s (Fed) Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) on the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). We believe the Fed’s approach is a good first step to improve upon the current CRA exam, in contrast to the Office of Comptroller’s final rule. However, we join our state and national partners in calling for more rigor in performance measures in order to ensure that CRA ratings will not be as inflated as they are today. More rigor is key to ensuring that CRA exams leverage more lending, investing and services for communities of color and low- and moderate-income (LMI) 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.
Increased intentionality around meeting the purposes of CRA is critical, in light of the disproportionate impact COVID-19 has had on people on color and LMI households and those that serve them. Prosperity Indiana offers these comments as the cross-sector intermediary for organizations dedicated to community economic development, which means our members are the people and organizations on the front lines fighting COVID-19. Our members and the populations and communities they serve statewide have borne the brunt of the pandemic, resulting in stresses on capacity and finances. Three-quarters of our members report having six months or less cash reserve on hand; and the great majority have been forced to cancel programs or events and experienced disrupted services, even while seeing an increased demand for services and assistance. In May 2020, 82% anticipated a future decrease in revenue, and 94% anticipated a moderate to high impact on their programs, services, and general operation.
And while many of our nearly 200 members are deeply engaged in the community economic development work affected by the CRA and the proposed changes in the ANPR, few have the capacity during the ongoing emergency of COVID-19 to respond to the 99 questions involved. In order for our members to continue to respond, recover, and rebuild from COVID-19, they need a robust CRA that does not hinder services to communities of color and low- and moderate-income communities.
What’s at stake in Indiana?
Every community has a stake in strengthening the CRA, from Indiana’s small towns to growing suburban areas to the core urban areas. This is true from Angola, which saw $130.3 million in mortgages or loans to LMI borrowers or neighborhoods from 2009 through 2018, $0 in business loans to LMI neighborhoods, and $97.2 million in loans to small businesses, to Warsaw with $277 million in mortgages to LMI borrowers or neighborhoods, $36.1 million in business loans to LMI neighborhoods, and $271.4 million in loans to small businesses. And in our state’s largest metro area of Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, which itself spans a large city, a wealthy suburb, and a former industrial center now facing challenges, mortgages to LMI borrowers or neighborhoods totaled $14.2 billion from 2009 through 2018, with $3.9 billion in business loans to LMI neighborhoods, and nearly $4 billion in loans to small business. Indiana’s communities from smallest to largest can’t risk a weakening of the CRA that would allow an increase in discrimination in lending.
Strengthening CRA is a critical component of a just recovery
Indiana communities who have been hardest-hit and are still battling the public health, economic, and housing impacts of COVID-19 are the same who carry the scars of redlining. The National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) recently released a major report finding significant correlations between redlining and susceptibility to COVID, including Evansville, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Gary and Lake County, Muncie, South Bend, and Terre Haute. In the 1930s, the Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC) commissioned the production of maps that rated neighborhoods based on the risk of lending in them. Working class and minority neighborhoods usually received the riskiest designation of hazardous. The designations subsequently facilitated redlining and discrimination against these neighborhoods, which remain starved of credit and are predominantly lower-income and minority. These neighborhoods also have the highest incidence of health conditions such as asthma, diabetes, kidney disease and stroke, which make residents more susceptible to COVID-19. Life expectancy is almost four years lower in the redlined communities than the neighborhoods not designated as hazardous by HOLC.
In Indiana, the pandemic has disproportionately affected communities of color in additional ways. For example, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s Unemployment Claims Monitor, Black Hoosiers have filed one in five unemployment insurance claims throughout the pandemic, although they make up only 9.4% of the labor force, according to 2019 data.
While we have not seen state-level data about Indiana’s Black-owned businesses, reports from the experiences of our members throughout the state align with nationwide trends showing a disproportionate impact on these businesses. Since the start of the pandemic, more than 440,000 African American businesses (41%) have been closed nationwide, compared to just 17% of White-owned small businesses. Discrimination in lending contributes significantly to racial disparities in small business survival rates. An NCRC investigation found that African American testers applying for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans for their small businesses during the pandemic were likely to receive less information or encouragement to apply than White testers. We do not need state-level data to confirm the impact, and we cannot afford to see the CRA watered down in the meantime. CRA must be strengthened considerably in order to combat discrimination and help our communities recover from the pandemic.
Read Prosperity Indiana's full comments to the Fed's ANPR on the CRA.
By Laura Berry and Andrew Bradley
On October 13, Indiana reopened its Rental Assistance Portal for the first time since closing on August 26. While the Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition applauds this needed step, the restrictions now attached to the portal funds will likely mean that very few of the nearly quarter million Hoosier households at threat of eviction will be helped. The Coalition renews its calls for Governor Holcomb to create a coordinated COVID-19 Housing Stability Policy Plan and leverage some of over $1 billion in CARES Act funds still sitting on the table to ensure no Hoosier is evicted or made homeless due to the pandemic.
Read the entire blog post here.
Prosperity Indiana has submitted comments to the Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority on proposed use of Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) Round 2 from the CARES Act. The letter states "[i]n large part, our comments today do not object to the proposed new activities in the amendment, but instead demonstrate our concern about the continuing missed opportunities of the State of Indiana not providing a coordinated COVID-19 housing stability policy response that aligns ESG-CV alongside current and newly-available CARES Act funds."
The comment period coincides with an announcement from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development of new allocations totaling over $27.3M in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to Indiana and its cities with explicit guidance that "funds can be used to provide temporary financial assistance to meet rental obligations for up to 6 months".
The comments state: "[f]or the proposed ESG plan to make a meaningful impact on the scope of Indiana’s housing stability crisis, the state must act quickly to incorporate both the ESG-CV2 and CDBG-CV3, as well as other remaining CARES Act funds to re-open the Rental Assistance Program well before the end of the CDC’s moratorium."
The comments reiterate calls on the state to provide a coordinated COVID-19 Housing Stability policy response, with a Task Force comprised of landlords, tenants, and experts in the connections between public health and housing; as well as a dashboard on the state's COVID-19 website with data on evictions and outcomes of rental assistance programs.
Read Prosperity Indiana's full comments here.
Dear Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition partners and friends,
We’re happy to write today with information about the new federal CDC eviction moratorium, and to provide an updated flyer from our partners at Prosperity Indiana.
From the National Low Income Housing Coalition:
A federal eviction moratorium issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) takes effect today, September 4, extending vital protections to tens of millions of renters at risk of eviction for nonpayment of rent during the global pandemic.
To be protected, qualified renters facing eviction should immediately provide a signed declaration to their landlords. For more details about the moratorium and a sample declaration that renters can use, read NLIHC’s and NHLP’s Overview of National Eviction Moratorium and our National Eviction Moratorium: FAQ for Renters.
From Prosperity Indiana:
Please share this updated Federal Eviction Moratorium flyer that outlines qualifications and procedures, and provides links to additional resources for renters.
See also Indiana Legal Services, Inc.'s COVID-19: New Federal Eviction Moratorium page
From the Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition:
The new CDC moratorium is an important step for up to 313,000 Hoosier households at risk of eviction and homelessness due to the pandemic, but more needs to be done. Because the moratorium provides no additional rent assistance, it’s critical that Indiana’s Senators Todd Young and Mike Braun champion $100B in rent assistance and homelessness prevention resources in the next coronavirus relief bill to meet Hoosiers’ needs.
The CDC has clearly established that housing is public health, and Indiana’s policymakers must recognize that housing stability needs to be a top priority in 2021. The new moratorium does not eliminate Indiana’s housing stability crisis, but simply delays the waves of evictions that will resume after December 31. To avoid unleashing a built-up tsunami of evictions in the dead of winter, Indiana’s policymakers must act during this moratorium, and should start by considering HHNC’s recommendations for a Housing Stability Policy Plan, including:
Take Action: tell Indiana’s policymakers and Senators to prioritize housing stability now!
On September 3, Prosperity Indiana submitted comments on behalf of our network opposing the federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s proposal “National Banks and Federal Savings Associations as Lenders” or "Rent-a-Bank Rule", and offering recommendations to instead strengthen our communities.
In our letter, Prosperity Indiana made the following arguments opposing the 'Rent-a-Bank Rule':
Read Prosperity Indiana's Comments on National Banks and Federal Savings Associations as Lenders Docket ID: OCC-2020-0026 RIN 1557-AE97.
INDIANAPOLIS – The Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition is urging Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb to ensure a waitlist and additional resources are made available before closing the state’s COVID-19 Rental Assistance Program Wednesday. More than 200,000 additional Hoosiers are expected to need pandemic-related rental assistance than will be provided through resources that are currently available through state and local government programs. The Coalition also calls on Indiana’s state and federal policymakers to come together to take critical steps to provide protections for renters to prevent the flood of evictions – that started with the end of the state’s moratorium August 14 – from deluging the state.
The Coalition issued an action alert stating concern that closing the rental assistance portal without a waiting list would leave renters in the dark with no way to document their request for assistance if an eviction case is filed against them. It also leaves the state no queue of assistance requests in the case that the program receives additional funds.
“The problem of evictions and housing instability isn’t going to disappear with the premature closure of the state’s rental assistance portal – quite the opposite will occur,” said Jessica Love, Executive Director of Prosperity Indiana. “A waiting list is the least the State of Indiana can do to demonstrate that it hasn’t turned its back on hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers who will continue to need emergency rental assistance as the impacts of the COVID-19 economic downturn continue to ramp up. A waiting list application confirmation could at least show due diligence for the renter attempting to work with their landlord but with limited resources to pay.”
As an example, the Coalition points to the waiting list used by the City of Indianapolis at IndyRent.org (the city’s rental assistance program portal), which will allow the city to contact tenants in the order they appear and invite them to apply once new funds become available. The state could use a similar waiting list to reactivate the state portal as funds are made available from over $1B currently available in CARES Act resources, or from any future coronavirus related funds passed by Congress.
“Working with the City of Indianapolis, I’m optimistic that they have found ways to work with partners on the ground to help make sure the Black and brown residents most impacted by COVID-19 receive rental assistance,” said Derris Ross, CEO/Founder of The Ross Foundation and the Indianapolis Tenants Rights Union. “Indiana needs a more tactical and intentional statewide plan to ensure an equitable housing recovery that reaches all Hoosiers no matter the color of their skin or their ZIP code.”
The Coalition sees the move to close the state’s rental assistance program without a waiting list as inconsistent with the facts on the ground of more than 30,000 applications to the program during its six-week run, compared to the approximately 25,000 households the program will serve (at $2,000 per household) through the $40 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds appropriated by the state. In sharper contrast, estimates indicate that up to 313,000 Hoosier households are at risk of eviction before the end of the year, part of multiple waves of evictions anticipated to last into 2021.
The Coalition reiterates its call for a coordinated statewide Housing Stability policy response to COVID-19, including a Governor-appointed Task Force representing the needs of landlords, tenants, and experts in housing and public health, as well as a Housing Security Dashboard on the state’s coronavirus web site to track eviction data and rent assistance outcomes. The Coalition has also called for a state Court Order to uniformly implement recommendations from the Supreme Court’s Landlord-Tenant taskforce. The Coalition also continues to call on Indiana’s Senators to follow the lead of the House in passing $100B in emergency rental assistance that would meet the estimated need in Indiana and nationwide.
“While the Senate hasn’t yet come through with the resources Indiana needs to serve all COVID-19 impacted renter households, that’s no excuse for the state to shut down its rental assistance program,” said Jessica Fraser, Director of the Indiana Institute for Working Families. “We’ve noticed that Indiana’s Senators have yet to stand up as champions for Hoosiers’ housing stability in negotiations for the next coronavirus package, and we see the impact that’s having here at home. Hopefully the state won’t give up on Hoosier renters before the Senate finishes the job in front of them.”
The Coalition asks Hoosiers to contact their policymakers by responding to the “Don't End Indiana's Emergency Rental Assistance Program!” Action Alert located at Prosperity Indiana’s online Advocacy Action Center. Organizations and individuals who wish to join the Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition and receive updates should also email firstname.lastname@example.org.
August 14, 2020
CONTACT: Andrew Bradley | (317) 222-1221 x403 | email@example.com
Coalition Calls for COVID-19 Housing Stability Dashboard, Court Order for Renter Protections as Governor’s Eviction Moratorium Ends
INDIANAPOLIS – With Indiana’s eviction moratorium ending on August 14, the Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition is calling on Governor Holcomb to include a ‘COVID-19 Housing Stability Dashboard’ on the state’s coronavirus response website to track eviction and rental assistance data. The Coalition also urges the Indiana Supreme Court to strengthen protections for renters facing COVID-19 related evictions in court with an order to uniformly enact recommendations of the Court’s Landlord-Tenant Task Force. These recommendations would help inform the state’s housing stability policies, in the absence of an articulated plan, and in the face of new data finding that up to 720,000 Hoosiers are at risk of eviction without additional protections.
The Coalition believes that neither the data nor the facts on the ground support lifting the moratorium at this point. Although the Coalition applauds state and municipal leaders for establishing emergency rental assistance programs, the amounts allocated to date are not enough to cover the current list of applicants, much less the new estimates of up to 313,000 households at risk of eviction in waves that could last through 2021.
And while the Coalition’s recommendations for the Governor to appoint a Housing Stability Task Force to ensure an adequate and equitable policy response has so far gone unheeded, the data from a COVID-19 Housing Stability Dashboard could inform future policy decisions in order to mitigate the risks of future evictions and homelessness. The dashboard should include the following updated weekly:
Eviction data for Indiana is notoriously difficult and expensive to obtain, with the most recent publicly-available information from 2016. And because Indiana is largely relying on partners for outreach about the state rental assistance program, it should arm those partners with up-to-date information about eviction filings and outcomes. The COVID-19 Housing Stability Dashboard should also include information directing people to the existing rental assistance programs throughout the state, as well as link to the Supreme Court's website with advisories and appendices for tenants, landlords and attorneys.
In addition, because the eviction moratorium is being lifted before measures on the Coalition’s Housing Stability Yardstick have been met and the state’s mediation program is not yet operational, the Coalition calls on the Indiana Supreme Court to issue a Court Order to ensure uniform application of the recommendations of the Landlord-Tenant Task Force across the state. A Court Order should elevate the Guidelines for Judges from suggestions to standard practices and be strengthened where needed to reduce unnecessary evictions, prevent homelessness, and safeguard public health, including:
In part, because demographic information, including disaggregated data on racial disparities, is difficult to obtain, the state should consider appointing a Housing Stability Task Force to monitor the disproportionate impact of policies and funding decisions on low-income communities and Black and brown Hoosiers across these areas.
“The Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana (FHCCI) implores our state to take the steps as outlined by the HHNC. The FHCCI fears the upcoming eviction pandemic and the long-term and sustained impact upon our Hoosier households. In our state, the filing of an eviction, justified or not, will follow Hoosiers around in their housing search for years to come, impacting their ability to find safe and affordable housing options. Indiana already received national attention, pre-COVID-19, on its high eviction rates. More must be done to address and counteract this crisis,” said Amy Nelson, Executive Director, Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana.
“Unfortunately, the end of the moratorium in no way signals that the threat of evictions and homelessness is now gone. Just the opposite. Not only will the coming tsunami of coming evictions have a long-term impact on renters, it will also cause lasting devastation on the communities that have been hit hardest by the pandemic job and income losses. This type of double-whammy is no jackpot. And the Hoosiers whose lives we are gambling with - hoping this problem will go away without additional, sweeping financial and legal interventions and accountability measures in place - are depending on our state’s leaders to do more,” said Jessica Love, Executive Director, Prosperity Indiana.
Organizations and individuals who wish to join the Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition and receive updates should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Andrew Bradley
The Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition thanks Governor Holcomb for extending Indiana’s eviction moratorium through August 14, and for his willingness to continue extending the pause and adding resources to the Indiana COVID-19 Rental Assistance Program as demand necessitates. The Coalition encourages Hoosiers in need to apply for assistance while resources are available and urges Indiana’s policymakers to make necessary progress towards housing stability before lifting the moratorium.
Governor Eric Holcomb officially extended the moratorium on residential evictions and foreclosures, which had previously been set to expire July 31, through Executive Order 20-39 until August 14, to align the expiration date with the existing moratorium on utility shutoffs. In the renewed order, landlords, tenants, lending institutions, and property owners are “strongly encouraged to work together to establish reasonable payment plans for past due rent or mortgage payments.” During his press briefing Wednesday announcing the extension, the Governor stated his willingness to add funding to Indiana’s $25 million rent assistance program and that it is too early to say whether the moratorium will be extended again.
Hoosier renters who have lost income due to the pandemic are encouraged to apply at IndianaHousingNow.org for non-Marion County residents, or at IndyRent.org for Marion County residents. While both programs have reached their initial estimated capacity, it is important for renters in need to apply to be added to the wait list and to demonstrate the demand for additional funds for these programs to policymakers. In addition, service providers, congregations, and other community-based organizations should make sure their members and clients are aware of this assistance. IHCDA has provided a Communications Toolkit with resources in English and Spanish, as well as Social Media Posts.
Before Governor Holcomb considers lifting the eviction moratorium, the Coalition urges him to ensure the state has met four measures on our Housing Stability Yardstick, including:
1.) Coordinate rent assistance programs to align all available funding streams. This includes stacking state and local funds and incentivizing philanthropic and private participation.
2.) Ensure equitable access to rental assistance program resources. Target outreach to highest cost burden areas and racial communities most impacted by public health, income and job loss, and housing instability.
3.) Appoint an Indiana Housing Security Task Force to advise on funding, outreach, and outcomes with expertise of landlords, impacted renters, public health and housing experts.
4.) Congress should provide adequate support for #RentReliefNow, with Indiana’s Congressional delegation as champions.
Meeting these measures will help ensure that 258,782 Hoosier renter households affected by the pandemic have the help they need to avoid eviction and potential homelessness. However, lifting the moratorium before meeting these measures would put Indiana at risk of regressing in its COVID-19 Back On Track Plan.
Please share this message with your networks. To join the Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition and receive updates, please contact email@example.com.
By Andrew Bradley, Jessica Fraser, and Michaela Wischmeier
With nearly maxed-out rental assistance programs, Indiana is running out of time to prevent a tsunami of evictions starting August 1, even as COVID-19 resurges through the state. Self-inflicted funding limits and a lack of statewide coordination between state and city rent assistance programs have set Indiana further back on the timeline needed to advance to higher stages of housing stability. In response, the Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition (HHNC) proposes a yardstick to measure the steps necessary to ensure COVID-19 housing stability.
On July 13, the State of Indiana and City of Indianapolis opened their COVID-19 emergency rental assistance programs after weeks of planning. In a little over a week, the state program had received 17,491 applications for a program expected to serve 12,000 households, and the city suspended applications after maxing out the projected capacity of 10,000 households in the first 48 hours. Including the households covered by these two programs, the HHNC estimates that no more than 50,000 households are likely to receive some form of rental assistance from the resources available from various government, faith-based and philanthropic organizations across the state at current capacity.
As a result, over 200,000 Hoosier renter households – of the estimated 258,782 who will need rental assistance before September – will remain subject to eviction and potential homelessness, if Governor Holcomb’s eviction pause expires on July 31 as planned. With Indiana’s early attempts at rent assistance nearly maxed out, thousands of Hoosier renters are at risk of spreading disease and experiencing economic calamity from losing their housing.
To prevent evictions that will cause Indiana to regress in its COVID-19 Back On Track Plan, the Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition has developed a ‘yardstick’ to measure four necessary steps for the state to take before Gov. Holcomb should consider lifting the eviction moratorium. The necessary steps include:
The ‘yardstick’ is as follows:
1.) Coordinate rent assistance programs. The current Indiana COVID-19 Rental Assistance Program provides up to $500 a month for up to four months, but families receiving rent assistance from another program are not eligible to apply. This design disincentives cities and private or philanthropic partners considering creating rent assistance programs of their own, as well as prevents ‘stacking’ local and state.
The current state program uses $25M in Coronavirus Relief Funds (of $2.4B) and $7.6M in Emergency Solutions Grant funds (of nearly $32M) allocated to the state from the CARES Act. But it leaves over $38M in Community Development Block Grants allocated to the state on the table, using none for rent assistance despite explicit authorization from HUD. funds together to help make families whole on their housing costs to avoid eviction.
2.) Ensure equitable access to rental assistance program resources. Indiana must ensure that the hardest-hit communities and Hoosiers have been given equitable access to available rent assistance, including through targeted outreach. The HHNC has found that rent assistance is Indiana’s top unmet need even during the eviction moratorium, and that low-income renters and Black and Latino Hoosiers have been most impacted by COVID-19 income loss and housing instability. And while the state has relied on others for outreach, and Indy included community partners for its program that lasted three days, a coordinated statewide program must include metrics to ensure assistance is properly targeted to low-income renters and Hoosiers of color.
Across Indiana, 40.4% of white renter households are cost-burdened by housing, meaning they “pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing” and “may have difficulty affording necessities such as food, clothing, transportation, and medical care.” However, 44.5% of Indiana’s Latino households and 51.4% of Black households are cost-burdened. In addition to Marion County, the counties with the highest rates of cost-burdened people of color include Delaware, Vigo, Johnson, Tippecanoe, Brown, Monroe, Allen, Lake, Clark, and Hendricks. For Indiana’s COVID-19 housing stability policy response to be a success, assistance must proportionally reach the most cost-burdened renters and the Black and Latino communities most impacted by the pandemic.
To assist with targeting outreach for Indiana and Marion County’s rent assistance programs, the Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition has used Census data to identify top housing cost-burdened Census tracts and areas with high proportions of Black and Latino households in the state. A larger database of these Census tracts can be found here.
While Indiana has housing cost burden across the entire state, Census data shows that the top 20 most cost-burdened communities in the state [excluding Marion County] have over two-thirds of their population allocating more than 30% of their income for rent each month. At 81%, Delaware County has the most cost-burdened census tract in the state. Geographically, these census tracts are spread across all parts of the state and include rural, suburban, and urban areas.
High proportions of Black households live in cost-burdened census tracts in many Indiana counties, including Lake, Marion, St. Joseph, Delaware, LaPorte, and Allen. In addition, large percentages of Latino households also live in cost-burdened Census tracts in many Indiana counties, including Lake, Noble, St. Joseph, Marion, Clinton, and Elkhart.
Similar to statewide trends, the top 20 cost-burdened census tracts in Marion County all have cost-burden rates of 65% or higher. Marion County has higher rates of racial diversity in its most cost-burdened census tracts, in comparison to the state as a whole. The majority of Marion County’s 20 most cost-burdened tracts have a Black population of 25% or higher, and slightly fewer than half have a Latino population above 10%.
3.) Appoint an Indiana Housing Security Task Force to advise on funding, outreach, and outcomes with expertise of landlords, impacted renters, public health and housing experts. Indiana’s ability to coordinate resources across funding sources could be significantly improved through a task force that includes elected officials, housing advocates, people of color and other Hoosiers most impacted by COVID-19 housing instability. While a COVID-19 task force already exists, the ‘Economic Relief and Recovery Team’ – appointed by the governor to plan, administer and account for federal relief funds the state of Indiana receives from the CARES Act – does not reflect this level of diversity and has not made housing stability a priority.
to represent renters, housing providers and investors, and experts in the connections between housing and public health in the decisions about Indiana’s COVID-19 housing policy response. This task force would help ensure that the hardest-hit communities are served as outlined above. Ideally, a representative of the Housing Stability Task Force would serve on the Economic Relief and Recovery Team on any housing-related decisions from this point forward.
Before the eviction moratorium is lifted: Resources significant enough to provide the rent assistance needed for all ‘severely cost burdened’ (paying over 50% on housing) Hoosier renters to ensure housing stability must be appropriated. Congress must come through with #RentReliefNow, and Indiana’s Congressional delegation should be out front as champions for the hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers relying on them. We urge Indiana’s Senators and Representatives to join HHNC to support $100 billion in emergency rental assistance to help low-income renters avoid evictions and homelessness; a national, uniform moratorium on evictions; $11.5 billion to help local communities address the pressing health and safety needs of people experiencing homelessness; and at least $13 billion in additional funding for HUD and USDA housing programs to ensure housing stability during and after the pandemic, including funds for 100,000 new Housing Choice Vouchers.
“With such limited resources in Indiana’s rental assistance programs, it is incumbent upon the State and the cities that are running these programs to target their outreach efforts in the most impacted communities,” said Indiana Institute for Working Families Director Jessica Fraser. “Otherwise, these programs run the risk of widening disparity and not solving it.”
Jessica Love, Executive Director of Prosperity Indiana, said, “The last thing Indiana needs is for Hoosier families to be evicted and thrown out on the street or couch-surfing during a resurgent pandemic and exacerbating the surge we’re already seeing in COVID-19 cases. We can no longer afford to delay the policy decision to have a COVID-19 Housing Stability Plan in place.”
Andrew Bradley is Policy Director and Michaela Wischmeier is AmeriCorps Member-Fellow for Prosperity Indiana. Jessica Fraser is Director of the Indiana Institute for Working Families.
 Indiana has received 17,491 applications to its COVID-19 Rental Assistance Program as of July 21 according to IHCDA.
 Definition of cost burdened renter from https://www.huduser.gov/portal/pdredge/pdr_edge_featd_article_092214.html
 Source: authors’ calculations of ACS 1-Year Estimates - Public Use Microdata Sample 2018 https://data.census.gov/mdat