Policy News

  • 26 Aug 2020 11:34 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    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 CenterOrganizations and individuals who wish to join the Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition and receive updates should also email hoosierhousingneeds@prosperityindiana.org.

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    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.

  • 14 Aug 2020 9:29 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    August 14, 2020

    CONTACT:  Andrew Bradley | (317) 222-1221 x403 | abradley@prosperityindiana.org

    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:

    • number of applications to state and city Rental Assistance Programs by county, including by housing cost-burdened Census tracts, compared with the number of requests for housing assistance to the Indiana 211 network
    • average amount requested by household per county
    • number of applications accepted and denied per county and per reason why rejected, including ineligibility or lack of landlord participation
    • number of evictions filed and completed per county and by cost-burdened Census tract
    • balance remaining in the state COVID-19 Rental Assistance Fund

    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:

    • Determine if the leased property is governed by rules applicable to federally-backed mortgages, or any previous or future COVID-19 related relief or moratorium
    • Separate court sessions for back rent versus damage hearings, and contested claims and other matters
    • Establish a procedure where the first hearing is simply for information with courts advising both landlord and tenant to complete an application to the applicable public rental assistance program before proceeding to a possession hearing.
    • Prioritize cases by oldest eviction cases first, i.e. the cases that were already scheduled when the moratorium was issued. Also consider situations where a party may have already resorted to impermissible self-help measures since tensions may be heightened.
    • Deprioritize cases where, after the initial information hearing, the landlord and/or tenant have sought to create a payment plan, and/or have applied for assistance after the first hearing but have not been granted that assistance.

    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 hoosierhousingneeds@prosperityindiana.org.

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    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.

  • 31 Jul 2020 3:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    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 hoosierhousingneeds@prosperityindiana.org.

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    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.

  • 22 Jul 2020 7:54 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    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[1] 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:

    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

    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. 

    Before the moratorium is lifted: Statewide coordination is needed to align available funding. The state also has not taken HHNC’s recommendations to date to provide coordination of CARES Act resources that could be used for housing stability across the state and local levels. Over a dozen Indiana cities have committed to using CARES Act resources for rent assistance, but the state has created an ‘either/or’ instead of a ‘both/and’ structure. Worse yet, while the U.S. Treasury explicitly allows CRF funds for rent assistance – and both the state and City of Indianapolis used CRF funds to launch their respective rent assistance programs, the state currently does not include rent assistance on the listof reimbursable CRF expenses for local units of government receiving CRF allocations from the state.

    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.


    Before the moratorium is lifted: Rent assistance must reach the top cost-burdened Hoosiers and where Black and Latino households live.

    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.”[2] However, 44.5% of Indiana’s Latino households and 51.4% of Black households are cost-burdened.[3] 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.

    Before the eviction moratorium is lifted: Indiana should take up the HHNC’s recommendation for Governor Holcomb to create an Indiana Housing Stability Task Force

    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.

    4.)   Congress should provide adequate support for #RentReliefNow, with Indiana’s Congressional delegation as champions. Indiana and Indianapolis have made progress in constructing pipelines for emergency rental assistance. And while each program could be expanded somewhat with existing CARES Act resources, the combined capacity is nowhere near the existing need for over a quarter of a million Hoosier households.

    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.

    [1] Indiana has received 17,491 applications to its COVID-19 Rental Assistance Program as of July 21 according to IHCDA.

    [2] Definition of cost burdened renter from https://www.huduser.gov/portal/pdredge/pdr_edge_featd_article_092214.html

    [3] Source: authors’ calculations of ACS 1-Year Estimates - Public Use Microdata Sample 2018 https://data.census.gov/mdat

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    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.

  • 14 Jul 2020 9:30 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    To afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent in Indiana, full-time workers need to earn $16.32 per hour. This is Indiana’s 2020 Housing Wage, revealed in a national report released today. The report, Out of Reach, was jointly released by Prosperity Indiana, a statewide community development network, and the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), a research and advocacy organization dedicated solely to achieving affordable and decent homes for the lowest income people.

    Indiana’s 2020 Housing Wage of $16.32 per hour is up from $16.03 in 2019 and is now sixth-highest among the 12 Midwest states, above the regional median of $16.30. The report also finds that the current median renter wage in Indiana of $14.44 per hour is sixth-highest in the Midwest, a penny above the regional median of $14.43. This would indicate that the cost of living in Indiana, compared to Midwestern peers, is not particularly low.

    “Data shows that the typical renter income is insufficient to afford rental housing in 80 of Indiana’s 92 counties — and in all 92 for low-income renters — and that’s before the economic and income disruptions caused by COVID-19,” said Jessica Love, Prosperity Indiana’s Executive Director. “This pandemic has certainly highlighted the very harsh reality of living at the edge of housing stability – often just one paycheck away from homelessness – and the impact it can have on the health and well-being of us all. As a result, we must consider the housing affordability issue that so many Hoosier renters experience and begin to proactively address it as a community-level concern.”


    This year, the Out of Reach report is released during a time when the coronavirus has clearly illustrated that housing is healthcare. The mandate to “stay at home” was echoed by top officials across the country. However, having a stable place to stay was out of reach for millions of people before the pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, more than 7.7 million extremely low-income renters were spending more than half of their limited incomes on housing costs, sacrificing other necessities to do so. The compounding of high job losses and the lack of access to proper healthcare and resources considerably depleted already limited resources and access. In the past few months alone, millions of households have dealt with a decline in wages through layoffs, furloughs, or decreased work hours and many will struggle to afford their rents. There are no states, metropolitan areas, or ZIP codes in the country where renters can afford a home at Fair Market without spending more than 30% of their income on housing costs. The severe shortage of affordable and available rental homes is still prevalent.

    Indiana’s minimum wage has remained at the federal floor of $7.25 an hour without an increase since 2009, not keeping pace with the high cost of rental housing. In no state, even those where the minimum wage has been set above the federal standard, can a minimum wage renter working a 40-hour work week afford a modest two-bedroom rental unit at the average fair market rent. Working at the minimum wage of $7.25 in Indiana, a wage earner must have 1.8 full-time jobs or work 73 hours per week to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment (up from 71 hours in 2019).  To afford a two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent, that Hoosier must have 2.3 full-time jobs or work 90 hours per week (up from 88 hours in 2019).


    The typical renter in Indiana pre-COVID-19 earns $14.44, which is $1.88 less than the hourly wage needed to afford a modest unit. The economic downturn spurred by the coronavirus has further increased the risk of housing instability for millions of low-wage renters at a time when stable housing is vital.

    “Housing is a basic human need, but millions of people in America can’t afford a safe, stable home,” said Diane Yentel, NLIHC president and CEO. “The harm and trauma of this enduring challenge is laid bare during COVID-19, when millions of people in America risk losing their homes during a pandemic. The lack of affordable homes for the lowest-income people is one of our country’s most urgent and solvable challenges, during and after COVID-19; we lack only the political courage to fund the solutions at the scale necessary. It’s time for Congress to act.”

    For additional information, visit: https://reports.nlihc.org/oor/indiana

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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.

  • 10 Jul 2020 2:03 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    July 10, 2020

    Andrew Bradley, Policy Director

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

    It’s common to hear that Indiana will face a ‘tsunami of evictions’ sometime after the state moratorium on residential evictions expires on July 31. But based on the evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic crisis that has followed and using what we know from past recessions, Indiana’s policymakers must prepare now for more than the first wave of the tsunami. Rising and falling with the economy, multiple waves of evictions are likely to last at least through 2021, as state and federal unemployment and current pandemic assistance expire and families exhaust any remaining resources. Failing to adequately provide and coordinate housing stability resources throughout this extended storm season could result in long-term damage to Hoosier jobs, public health, and the economy.

    The best state estimates find that 258,782 Hoosier renter households affected by the pandemic will need emergency rent assistance by September 2021. But even as unemployment claims are expected to gradually decrease over the coming year, 186,069 households will continue to need pandemic-related rent assistance by June 2021. Over that time, we are likely to see those evictions come in several waves:

    The first wave lands August 1: When the Governor’s eviction moratorium ends July 31, the first wave will hit on August 1 when landlords can again initiate evictions for any delinquent rent. National estimates find that for every 10 successful unemployment claim filings, three to four people tried to apply but could not get through, and two more found the system too difficult to attempt to apply. In addition, people at risk of homelessness may have had difficulty receiving the federal stimulus payment. So with nearly 850,000 Hoosiers claiming unemployment since March 21, up to 500,000 more Hoosiers never received state or federal unemployment or pandemic assistance and may be among that first wave of evictions. Because these Hoosiers did not receive a substantial income replacement, even with city or partial state rent assistance available, these families likely won’t be able to make ends meet to avoid immediate eviction, without coordinated non-governmental resources or an abundance of landlord cooperation.


    The second wave begins to land September 1: 409,455 Hoosiers are set to lose a total of $245,672,928 per week in unemployment benefits starting on July 27 when the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) expires. If one in three of these recipients has been relying on FPUC for rent, policymakers should expect a new wave of 136,485 evictions in Indiana, beginning when rent is due in September. Even for those who are among the 12,000 families who receive $500 per month in Indiana’s COVID-19 Rental Assistance Program – while continuing to receive the average state unemployment benefit of $272.72 after FPUC expires, the assistance still doesn’t add up to the $834 per month needed for the average two-bedroom apartment in Indiana. The bottom line is that, without an extension of federal pandemic unemployment assistance, over 100,000 Hoosier households will be vulnerable to eviction starting September 1.


    The third and biggest wave won’t crest until 2021: The U.S. officially entered recession in February. Although the sharp spike in unemployment and associated public health risks make the COVID-19 recession unique, Indiana’s policymakers should be prepared for evictions to again be a lagging indicator, with a wave that comes a year or more after the peak of unemployment.  Following the Great Recession, which lasted from December 2007 to June 2009, Indiana’s peak monthly unemployment rate of 11% occurred in January and February of 2010, with an annual average for that year of 10.4%. But Indiana’s evictions actually dipped that year, and didn’t peak until the following year, with an eviction rate of 4.9% and an eviction filing rate of 8.8% in 2011. These rates very slowly declined over the next five years before again rising, starting in 2015. If Indiana’s unemployment rate of 17% in April 2020 turns out to be the peak from the COVID-19 recession, the state can expect the resulting wave of evictions and eviction filings to peak sometime in 2021. However, if the recession continues or is exacerbated by a second wave of the COVID-19 public health emergency, the wave of evictions could crest again in 2022 or beyond. After a year or more of recession, without additional resources, this wave could devastate Indiana's renter community and economy.

    Indiana is not yet ready for the first eviction wave, much less three or more. While Indiana has built a pipeline for emergency rental assistance and homeless prevention with the Indiana COVID-19 Rental Assistance Program and several city-based programs, state leadership has not yet provided proportional resources or coordination to cover the need statewide. This is preventing city and state agencies from aligning available funds and ensuring resources get to where they’re needed most. Prosperity Indiana and The Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition have recommended that Governor Holcomb appoint a Housing Stability Task Force with members that represent renters, housing providers, and experts in the connections between housing and public health. More data will be needed once the state and city programs are operational – and after Indiana’s eviction moratorium expires – to gauge the effectiveness of outreach, utilization rates, and need for additional funds for these efforts. Indiana’s Congressional delegation must also provide adequate resources for housing stability to prevent each eviction wave from sinking Hoosier families.

    “Without having a more coordinated system for rental assistance delivery to pair governmental and nongovernmental resources, it’s hard to know just how unprepared we are as a state to address the first wave of evictions that’s coming,” said Jessica Love, Executive Director of Prosperity Indiana. “But knowing the total of what’s been announced as available through state and city administered federal resources to date, without more, we are certain the second and third waves of this housing crisis will result in a major wipeout for housing stability for families in this state. Without more and better coordinated resources to mitigate the coming storms, massive evictions will undoubtedly become Hoosiers’ ‘next normal‘,” Love said.

    Several issues pre-date COVID that exacerbate housing instability in Indiana during this new crisis, and should be taken into consideration for long-term policy solutions. Even before the pandemic, nearly 40%of Hoosier households had less than $400 saved for emergencies. Indiana also already had an eviction crisis with an eviction rate of 4.07 in 2016 (above all neighbors and the national average of 2.34%), with three cities (Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, and South Bend) among the top 20 in the U.S. for high eviction rates.

    A rule of thumb of ‘one in three’ unemployment recipients needing emergency rent assistance aligns with the rate of 31% of Indiana residents are renters, according to U.S. Census data, as well as a mid-range estimate, as studied by the Urban Institute in ‘The Price Tag for Keeping 29 Million Families in Their Homes: $162 Billion,’ March 27, 2020 https://www.urban.org/urban-wire/price-tag-keeping-29-million-families-their-homes-162-billion.

  • 24 Jun 2020 7:56 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    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.

  • 17 Jun 2020 9:51 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Three months since Governor Eric Holcomb declared a public health emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic, Hoosiers are still waiting for a coordinated statewide housing stability policy response that aligns available federal, state, and local/philanthropic resources and provides emergency rental assistance. This blog post collects the analysis and recommendations that Prosperity Indiana and members of the Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition have offered to Indiana’s state and federal policymakers and other partners to date.

    A common theme of our analysis and advocacy is the importance for state policymakers to use the time available during the eviction moratorium to create a coordinated policy response and clearly communicate procedures and expectations to renter families, landlords, and community service providers and stakeholders alike. Because many of the resources available for emergency rental assistance to date come through the CARES Act but are allocated through existing programs at the state and local levels with differing eligibility requirements, it’s essential that state leadership provides the role of Housing Stability Lead to coordinate these resources to ensure they reach the hardest hit populations and communities. And because data has emerged showing that low-income renters, women, and Hoosiers of color have been most affected by the pandemic, by loss of jobs and income, and by housing insecurity, it’s all the more urgent that a state Housing Security Lead takes responsibility that these Hoosiers aren’t further endangered at this critical time. In addition, it is clear that not enough federal resources or guidance has been received to fill the need statewide. Congress will need to provide additional resources, and the federal administration must expedite authorization and guidance so that no Hoosier is evicted or made homeless due to the pandemic.

    Updating Indiana’s COVID-19 Housing Response (April 3, 2020) “[J]ust 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.”

    Prosperity Indiana Joins Housing Providers and Advocates Calling on Senator Young to Champion Emergency Rental Assistance for Indiana (April 21, 2020) “While it will take Hoosiers #INthistogether to address the state’s response, Congress must come through to meet Indiana’s short term emergency rental assistance needs.”

    New Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition urges actions to ensure housing stability response to COVID-19 (May 1, 2020) “In order to prevent a sudden wave of evictions and the damaging health and social disruptions that follow for affected families, Indiana policymakers must plan ahead to create an emergency short-term rental assistance program and communicate steps to be taken. It will take each level of Indiana’s elected leaders, working hand-in-hand with community leaders and advocates, to achieve these steps.”

    Indiana extends evictions pause through June 4, but what’s happening in your community? (May 5, 2020) “Indiana’s pause on evictions has been extended through June 4, and that means the state has one more month to create and implement a COVID-19 housing security policy response to ensure no Hoosier is evicted or becomes homeless due to the pandemic.”

    Prosperity Indiana comments on 2020 amendment to 2019 OCRA Annual Action Plan (May 9, 2020) “[Our comments] demonstrate our concern about the missed opportunity of not employing allowed uses of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) resources for emergency rental assistance as part of a recommended state COVID-19 housing stability plan.”

    Indiana extends eviction pause again through July 1. The clock's now ticking for emergency rent assistance! (May 21, 2020) “[T]he state is now officially on the clock to have an emergency rental assistance program up and running so that no Hoosier becomes evicted or homeless due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Prosperity Indiana comments on State of Indiana 2019 Annual Action Plan ESG-CV HOPWA-CV Amendments (May 22, 2019) “Prosperity Indiana especially appreciates that the draft plan includes funding that would create a structure for emergency rental assistance to be delivered statewide to Hoosier renters most in need.”

    Prosperity Indiana comments 2020 amendment to 2019 CDBG Long Term Annual Action Plan (June 3, 2020) “[W]e ask you to reconsider the opportunity to use part of the CDBG resources covered by this amended Long-Term Phase of the COVID-19 Response Program to align with the long-term needs for housing security, including emergency rental assistance, in response to the pandemic.”

    Short Term Emergency Rental Assistance White Paper for INHP (May 29, 2020) “This white paper examines the pros and cons of several types of STERA [Short Term Emergency Rental Assistance] programs, including those delivered at the federal, state, municipal, and/or private philanthropic levels. Using examples of existing or proposed programs, the paper walks the reader through the features of STERA programs and the benefits or drawbacks of key decisions that go into program design, including implications for program outcomes.”

    Housing and Rental Assistance Among Hoosiers’ Top Unmet COVID-19 Needs (June 2, 2020) “Without coordinated action this month by state policymakers to enact a working rental assistance program and support from Indiana’s Congressional delegation to fund it, many Hoosier families remain at risk of eviction and homelessness when the state’s eviction moratorium expires June 30.”

    Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition: Indiana not making enough progress to avoid an eviction crisis when moratorium ends June 30 (June 10, 2020) “Without a clearly communicated comprehensive statewide COVID-19 policy response in place, ending the eviction moratorium would inflict even more harm on the most disadvantaged Hoosiers, undoing all of the strides made by the state’s COVID-19 response to date.”

    Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition Virtual Press Conference (June 10, 2020) ““Being evicted come July 1 will only further escalate the division, the trauma, and violence within our communities,” said Dee Ross, CEO & Founder of The Ross Foundation and Founder, Indianapolis Tenants Rights Union. “Tenant screening companies will judge them more harshly in conducting future background checks due to having an eviction filed against them, forever impacting their ability to secure safe and affordable housing,” said Amy Nelson, Executive Director, Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana.

    Results of Entitlement Cities Survey on using CARES Act funds for emergency rental assistance (June 16, 2020) “Indiana needs statewide rent assistance, and CARES funds allocated to entitlement cities can be part of that if coordinated. Through a survey of cities conducted from late May through mid-June, here’s what we know to date about use of CARES Act resources by Indiana’s cities for emergency rental assistance.”

    Recommendations for an Indiana Statewide Emergency Rental Assistance program using Coronavirus Relief Funds (June 16, 2020) “With an understanding that the full CRF allocation to Indiana may not be available for rent assistance, here are suggested guidelines for how a statewide rent assistance program could prioritize Hoosiers most in need.”


  • 10 Jun 2020 7:36 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition is sounding the alarm that not enough progress has been made by state and federal policymakers for renters affected by COVID-19 to avoid falling off an ‘eviction cliff’ when Governor Holcomb’s moratorium ends June 30.

    Even while protesters are marching for racial equality in communities across the state, the pandemic is disproportionately harming and killing Hoosiers of color, and unemployment is impacting low-income renters, women, and Hoosiers of color most. Without a clearly communicated comprehensive statewide COVID-19 policy response in place, ending the eviction moratorium would inflict even more harm on the most disadvantaged Hoosiers, undoing all of the strides made by the state’s COVID-19 response to date.

    Prosperity Indiana Executive Director Jessica Love said, “To be clear, we do not want to be in the position to ask for another extension of the eviction pause. We know landlords are hurting alongside renters right now. So, we had hoped that state and local governments would use the most recent extension period to proactively establish a coordinated and comprehensive plan to address this mounting crisis. But unfortunately, we are again approaching the moratorium deadline, without a clear path forward for the growing number of families getting behind on rent.”

    With over a quarter million Hoosier renter families affected by the pandemic needing emergency rental assistance when temporary stimulus measures expire, the Coalition urges Governor Holcomb to take immediate steps to prevent upending the state’s economic recovery with a wave of evicted Hoosiers. Until emergency rental assistance is available across the state, Governor Holcomb must extend the eviction moratorium for Hoosiers affected by the pandemic, while considering comprehensive measures to respond to this looming aspect of the crisis.

    Since the COVID-19 public health emergency began, housing advocates have urged Governor Holcomb to enact a plan and pledge that no Hoosier is evicted or made homeless due to the pandemic. In early May, the new Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition issued a set of recommendations based on best practices from states across the country, asking that the Governor appoint a Housing Stability Lead to coordinate available federal, state, and private/philanthropic resources to ensure that the hardest-hit communities and populations are assisted. And while promising ideas have been proposed at the state agency level and several cities have begun moving forward with rental assistance plans, based on what’s been presented publicly, these early efforts will fall far short of the need, and additional measures are now necessary to stem the potentially devastating housing impact statewide.

    Housing and rental assistance are now among Hoosiers’ top unmet COVID-19 needs, with low-income renters and Hoosiers of color at increased risk. New data from Indiana 211 finds that, despite the eviction pause, housing is now the network’s top request for referrals and unmet needs, ahead of utilities, food/meals, and health care. Unlike before the pandemic, when most requests for rent assistance came from individuals unable to work, requests now come primarily from Hoosiers who are unemployed and looking for work. The pandemic has hit housing providers hard as well, with rent delinquency rates increasing above 20% and now coming mostly from market rate housing in the $20,000-$30,000 income range most typical of the state’s renters. This aligns with state unemployment data finding that Hoosiers who have been most likely to lose their jobs and income – working in accommodation and food services, retail, health care and social assistance – are primarily held by low-income renters, women, and people of color.

    In addition, brand-new U.S. Census data finds that Black Hoosiers were nearly three times as likely to not have been able to pay May rent on time as white Hoosiers. And while 31% of white Hoosiers report having little or no confidence in being able to pay their June rent, that proportion increases to 41% for Black and 72% of Latino Hoosiers. Ending the eviction moratorium without an equitable housing security plan in place will further disproportionately harm these Hoosiers of color in a time of unparalleled turmoil and peril.

    But Hoosiers can't be expected to pay the rent with assistance that hasn't shown up. Indiana has paid less than half (45.5%) of the 630,383 total initial unemployment claims over March and April. Estimates show that up to 400,000 additional Hoosiers may have been unemployed due to the pandemic but couldn’t get through the state’s unemployment system. And while the State has received over $70.4 million in allocations from the CARES Act that could be used for emergency rental assistance (including $32 million in Emergency Solutions Grants and $38.4 million in Community Development Block Grants), in addition to $2.6 billion from the Coronavirus Relief Fund, to date only $7.6 million has been earmarked thus far by the State for emergency rental assistance. And while some cities, like Evansville, Fort Wayne, and Indianapolis, are moving forward with using their respective CARES Act resources for rent assistance, and various churches and nonprofits are assisting families with support they have secured, these individual efforts cannot meet the need of the 258,782 Hoosier families that the National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates will need assistance just this summer. In fact, that number declines only to 186,069 – with unemployment rates that the Congressional Budget Office expects to remain above 10% – through June 2021. Meanwhile, residents of communities where emergency rental assistance has not been announced are awaiting relief with no clear understanding of what might be provided, when evictions filings are set to start back in a mere three weeks. But Indiana’s local and state resources can’t do it alone – Congress must pass the ‘Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act’ to adequately fund any statewide program that Indiana builds.

    “Any state or city COVID-19 rental assistance program needs to include directly-impacted people and Black- and Brown-led organizations in their planning and delivery to make sure the vulnerable communities who most need assistance actually receive the funds. These need to include organizations with the right capacity and people to do outreach and walk door-to-door to ensure Black and Brown people aren’t just jumping through hoops but have direct access to the help they need. Otherwise there are a lot of vulnerable communities all throughout Indiana who will be forgotten yet again, and left without the right resources,” said Derris Ross, CEO and Founder of the Ross Foundation and the Indianapolis Tenants’ Union.

    “It is imperative that the state be a leader in addressing the critical renter needs approaching. If rental assistance will not be ready for those in need to access, there must be an announced plan to help those at risk of homelessness to navigate these troubling times and assist in working with at-need landlords. Our Hoosier renters are already seeing the increased harms due to their vulnerability. For example, the FHCCI has received increased allegations of sexual harassment for at-risk renters unable to pay rent by bad acting landlords,” stated Amy Nelson of the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana.

    “Both the state and local county health departments have provided significant resources for those experiencing homelessness to reduce emergency shelter numbers in response to the public health crisis, with shelter populations reduced to allow for adherence to public health guidelines. Our crisis response system cannot handle an influx of new households experiencing homelessness because of the looming eviction crisis. If there is not a statewide effort to address this, our homeless response system will once again be overburdened and all of the work done to keep people safe and healthy will be undermined. Housing is healthcare and we have to keep people in housing and out of the shelter system!” said Dr. Chelsea Haring-Cozzi, Executive Director of Coalition for Homelessness Intervention & Prevention (CHIP).

    "As the economic impact of COVID-19 unfolds, the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic is concerned that more and more of our low-income neighbors and communities of color will slip into greater economic distress. We anticipate a “tsunami of foreclosures and evictions" that is reminiscent of the Great Recession a decade ago. A statewide plan is needed to provide hope for the vulnerable and the marginalized, who will disproportionally suffer housing insecurity," said Amy Horton, Executive Director of the Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic.

    “What we would love to see, in the end, is that no additional Hoosiers become homeless as a result of COVID-19. What we need to see, now, is a coordinated plan with strategies outlined to achieve that goal. We want to see Indiana move from the relief phase to true recovery and resiliency. But if thousands across the state become homeless next month, when families need to be focused on the future and gearing up for things like a new school year, it will absolutely throw Indiana’s pandemic recovery into reverse,” said Prosperity Indiana’s Jessica Love.

    Three months into the state’s COVID-19 response, Indiana can’t risk backsliding on its ‘Back on Track’ recovery plan by families forced to drag their belongings to the curb and potentially contracting coronavirus in homeless shelters. At a bare minimum, the following should be implemented:

    • Until a fully operational state rental assistance program is in place, Governor Holcomb must extend the eviction moratorium for all households who have lost income due to the pandemic but who have not received unemployment or other stimulus relief sufficient to make rent.
    • In extending the moratorium again, the State should consider the impact it will have on the housing industry and its role in ensuring it does not collapse, including potentially establishing a short-term bridge loan program for rental housing owners/operators.
    • Appointing a statewide Housing Stability Lead – to work with those representing tenants and housing advocates, landlords, the legal aid community, and Indiana’s philanthropic and private sectors – remains a critical next step.
    • Indiana’s Senators Todd Young and Mike Braun must champion the Emergency Rental Assistance and Rental Market Stabilization Act to provide adequate funding to meet Hoosiers’ COVID-19 housing security needs.

    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.

  • 02 Jun 2020 12:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Housing security is emerging as Indiana’s top need during the ongoing pandemic, with data supporting that COVID-19 income loss as the main cause. And while Governor Holcomb’s eviction and foreclosure moratorium has been essential for Hoosiers economically affected by COVID-19, it has also obscured the mounting need for housing assistance throughout the pandemic and the community’s recovery period to follow. Without coordinated action this month by state policymakers to enact a working rental assistance program and support from Indiana’s Congressional delegation to fund it, many Hoosier families remain at risk of eviction and homelessness when the state’s eviction moratorium expires June 30.

    Data from the Indiana 211 Partnership show that despite the eviction pause, 22,354 Hoosiers have contacted 211 seeking housing services, with a one-week maximum of 2,707 requests over that time. Housing requests are up 22% since before the declared public health emergency. Requests for rent payment assistance, 11, 253 total since the COVID-19 public health emergency, have come in at a rate nearly three times any other housing assistance type, including for homeless shelters or mortgage assistance. Throughout May, housing was the 211 network’s top need for both referrals and unmet needs, ahead of utilities, food/meals, and health care. And while the majority of housing requests come from Indiana’s largest cities, they come from all regions of the state and from urban, suburban, and rural counties alike. Analysis by Indiana 211 found that, consistent with pre-emergency data, single females were the most common household composition reporting housing needs. However, the most common reported employment status since the declared public health emergency is now ‘unemployed and looking for work’. Indiana 211 reports “[t]his is not consistent with pre-public health emergency data, where unable to work/disabled was the primary reported status.” COVID-19 related lack of income is now fueling the need for housing assistance.

    The burden of lost jobs and income during the pandemic are largely falling on low-income Hoosier renter households, but the assistance provided to date is not being directed to them. Since Governor Holcomb declared a public health emergency on March 6, Hoosiers have filed 698,492 initial unemployment claims. However, national estimates find that for every 10 successful filings, three to four people tried to apply but could not get through, and two more found the system too difficult to attempt to apply, meaning there are up to 419,094 more Hoosiers who have lost jobs and income but have not been successfully assisted with state or federal pandemic unemployment assistance. In addition, of the over quarter-million Hoosiers with continued unemployment claims, the largest industries affected include accommodation and food services, retail, health care and social assistance, administrative support and waste management, the kinds of jobs held by low-income renters, women, and Hoosiers of color. And while help has been made available to Indiana homeowners to avoid foreclosure through the Hardest Hit Fund, so far the state’s guidance for Hoosier renters on June 1 still relied on advising tenants to ask landlords to set up payment plans or consult local charities and churches for assistance to avoid eviction.

    COVID-19’s increasing impact on housing has also been hurting Indiana’s housing providers, as evidenced by collections data that declined sharply from April to May. The Indiana Apartment Association reported that members only collected 79% of rent on-time in May, down from 94% in April, with a delinquency rate jumping from 6% in April to 21% in May. In response, 95% of IAA member properties are waiving late fees, 46% are creating payment plans, 9% are discounting rent paid on time, and 5% are deferring rent. IAA finds that the highest percentage of May delinquency comes from market rate/conventional properties (compared to low-income tax credit program or student housing). The income category most likely to be delinquent is not the lowest ($0-$20,000), but between $20,000-$30,000 for 20% of renters who were delinquent in May. This is the range of the average Indiana renter’s wage and provides further evidence that Hoosiers whose jobs are most likely to be affected by COVID-19 are also those least likely to be able to afford rent.

    And while the eviction moratorium masks the true need, estimates from the National Low Income Housing Coalition find that 267,832 renter households have been affected by the pandemic in Indiana. But because only 9,051 of those households are served by HUD-subsidized housing, 258,782 low-income Hoosier renter households will need emergency rental assistance by September 2020, two months after the eviction moratorium is lifted and pandemic unemployment insurance ends. Using Congressional Budget Office estimates of an unemployment rate that stays above 10% through July 2021, over 186,000 Hoosier households will likely continue to need rent assistance through next summer. The cost to keep these affected Hoosier renters housed is nearly $98M per month and $1.6B total, but that pales in comparison to the devastating personal, economic, and public health costs of Indiana’s policymakers allowing nearly a quarter of a million Hoosier families to risk being evicted or becoming homeless.

    The economic effects of COVID-19 will not disappear overnight. A new nationwide poll from Opportunity Starts At Home finds “over half (54%) of all people express concern that they will lose their housing if they don’t get additional assistance to help cover the costs – and this concern is more acute among lower-income households and people of color (61% of households making below $40,000 say this is a concern; and 72% of African Americans and 76% of Latinos say this is a concern, compared to 43% of whites).” In addition, among all Americans, 93% believe the Congress should take major action to “provide emergency rental assistance for people who are struggling to afford the rent and are at serious risk of eviction as a result of the coronavirus outbreak”.

    Simply put: to address Hoosiers’ urgent need for housing stability before the eviction pause expires on June 30, Indiana’s state policymakers must implement a COVID-19 housing stability plan and Indiana’s Congressional delegation must provide adequate resources to ensure no Hoosier is evicted or made homeless due to the pandemic.

Prosperity Indiana
1099 N. Meridian Street, Suite 170
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