June 5, 2019 | Filed under: Jobs, economy & labor,Top stories | Posted by: Janet Williams
By Abrahm HurtTheStatehouseFile.com
INDIANAPOLIS—Every day in Indiana 86 families or nearly 32,000 a year are evicted from their homes, an event that will end up making it more difficult for them to find a place they can afford.
That statistic was shared Wednesday by Prosperity Indiana, an economic development organization that works to provide resources and advocacy to strengthen local communities.
Nearly half of all Hoosiers who rent are burdened by the cost because they are paying more than 30% of their monthly income on housing, said Jessica Love, executive director of Prosperity Indiana.
Jessica Love of Prosperity Indiana describes the challenges low-income Hoosiers face in seeking affordable housing. Photo by LaMonte Richardson, TheStathouseFile.com
Across the state there is a lack of affordable housing for low-income individuals, she added. In fact, Indianapolis has the 14th highest eviction rate among large cities in the United States, according to their data.
“While we’re sharing some dire statistics and trends today, we’re not doing so to indicate that the situation is hopeless,” Love said. “Rather, we want to encourage more voices to speak up now on what is happening to Hoosiers who are housing unstable and build support for the best solutions at the federal, state and local levels.”
Prosperity Indiana joined the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention (CHIP), the IU Public Policy Institute and the National Low Income Housing Coalition at the Horizon House in Indianapolis to discuss the affordable housing issue. They stressed the need for advocacy to advance state and federal policy solutions.
Love said two bills filed in the 2019 legislative session would have helped prevent evictions and ensure renters live in safe housing, but they both failed to pass.
Senate Bill 524, authored by Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, would have expanded legal aid to tenants in crisis, and it would have made it a criminal offense to rent a condemned property. It was assigned to the Commerce and Technology Committee and never got a hearing.
Senate Bill 422, which was authored by Sen. Mike Bohacek, R-Michiana Shores, would have allowed tenants to terminate a lease if basic habitability standards were not met within a reasonable time frame after moving in. The bill got out of the Judiciary Committee but never got a vote on the floor of the full Senate.
Kathleen Lara, policy director for Prosperity Indiana, said the biggest reason the legislation failed was because the issue had not been addressed in more than 10 years and a general lack of testimony in favor of the bills.
Michael Hurst, an attorney with Indiana legal services, has been part of a project to make the eviction process less transactional in Indiana and provide counsel. In six months, Hurst has handled 178 referrals.
“I kept the eviction of their record, but when push came to shove, they were not able to find alternative, affordable housing to go to,” he said, explaining that most of his clients are single mothers who cannot find housing they can afford.
Prosperity Indiana reports that an individual making minimum wage would have to work 86 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom apartment at a fair market rate in the state.
Love said a larger coalition of people and groups would bring more options and policy changes.
“We’ve said it’s not legal to put people in a home that’s not habitable,” she said. “But there’s also nothing happening really to enforce that.”
Abrahm Hurt is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.
This story also ran in:
South Bend: https://www.southbendtribune.com/news/local/lack-of-affordable-housing-is-a-growing-problem-in-indiana/article_001358b7-dffa-5b97-94aa-5b4a29cea0eb.html
NUVO (Indianapolis): https://www.nuvo.net/news/lack-of-affordable-housing-is-a-growing-problem-in-indiana/article_e3227d12-8874-11e9-bd43-bfe945bcb28e.html
ORIGINAL STORY FROM IPBS-RJC
Article origination IPBS-RJC
Leaders from Indiana and national community organizations discuss the state's high eviction rates and potential solutions.
Indiana has one of the highest rates of evictions in the country – only six states are worse.
And many community advocates point to one issue as a major cause.
Three of Indiana’s biggest cities are in the top 20 in the country among comparably-sized communities for highest eviction rates – Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, and South Bend. Indianapolis has the second most evictions of any city in the country, behind only New York City.
Prosperity Indiana’s Jessica Love – like many community advocates – points to a major issue the state must address to help reduce evictions.
“They must also include more resources to fund the expansion of affordable housing,” Love says.
Judy Fox runs the Economic Justice clinic in South Bend. She says she’d also like to see Indiana create an eviction expungement process.
“If you were evicted 10 years ago, why is that still on your record and preventing people from renting to you?” Fox says.
Some community leaders say there’s hope for federal action, spearheaded in part by Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.).
Following the event in Indianapolis, Prosperity Indiana's Executive Director, Jessica Love, and Policy Director, Kathleen Lara, appeared on the Community Connection segment of FM 92.7/AM 1310's The Light, hosted by Tina Cosby discussing evictions and the affordable housing crisis in Indiana.
You can listen to that interview here: https://praiseindy.com/2168011/community-connection-thursday-june-6th/
A shard of glass sticks out of the ground in a common area at Miami Hills apartment complex on May 21 in South Bend.
Most would agree people should have access to safe, affordable housing, but that’s still an elusive goal for many.
Last month tenants at Miami Hills Apartments in South Bend complained about substandard living conditions they’ve been forced to live with. Problems ranged from mold on bathroom walls to leaking ceilings and water heaters not working properly.
And these are not new issues.
In a recent Viewpoint, Judith Fox, a University of Notre Dame law school professor and director of the Economic Justice Clinic, a group that provides free legal services to low-income clients, said she asked HUD in Indianapolis about the apartment complex more than 10 years ago.
Even though the apartment complex was failing inspections, HUD officials passed them anyway because people living there had no other housing options.
A story from TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website, recently reported that 86 families a day, or nearly 32,000 a year, are evicted from their homes in Indiana. And nearly half of all Hoosiers who rent are burdened by the cost because they are paying more than 30% of their monthly income on housing, according to Prosperity Indiana.
The Indiana General Assembly tried to weigh in on the issue. Two bills were filed in the 2019 legislative session that would have helped prevent evictions and ensure renters live in safe housing, but both failed to pass.
One would have made it a criminal offense to rent a condemned property, but it never it received a hearing. Another would have allowed tenants to terminate a lease if basic habitability standards were not met within a reasonable time after a tenant moved in. That bill was never voted on by the full Senate.
Locally, the South Bend Common Council recently adopted the Rental Safety Verification Program that underscores the need for more safe, affordable housing.
The program is managed by the Department of Code Enforcement and allows the city to proactively address violations in rental housing that put residents at risk for health issues and safety concerns.
After the first three months, 108 of 132 rental units inspected have failed. Most of those already had open violation files with code enforcement.
The RSVP is a good step, but it’s only a small one. There are still too many falling through the cracks.
There seems to be consensus building that safe, affordable housing is lacking here and elsewhere in the state. Now what’s needed is action, including from state lawmakers, to prioritize this public safety issue.
This week, two House Appropriations Subcommittees set forth proposed funding levels for affordable housing and community development programs at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020. The great news for Prosperity Indiana members is that these spending bills provide a robust increase in funding to housing programs that serve low-income people and communities overall. Both represent significant increases compared to the Administration's proposed FY 2020 budget, as we outlined in an earlier blog post, found here.
To watch the Appropriations Subcommittees' coverage of these two bills, click here for the USDA budget mark up and click here for the Transportation HUD mark up. The week after next, the full Appropriations Committee will consider both of these bills and vote on amendments.
Transportation-Housing and Urban Development
Tenant Based Rental Assistance
Project-Based Rental Assistance
Homeless Assistance Grants
Housing Counseling Assistance
Public Housing Capital Fund
Public Housing Operating Fund
Choice Neighborhoods Initiative
Family Self-Sufficiency Program
Jobs-Plus Pilot Sufficiency Program
Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity
202 (Housing for Elderly)
811 (Housing for Persons with Disabilities)
Rental Assistance Demonstration
Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity
Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard
Policy Development and Research
Agriculture, Rural Development, and Food and Drug Administration
502 Single Family Guarantee
502 Single Family Direct
502 Self-Help set-aside
521 Rental Assistance
515 Rental Housing Direct Loans
504 VLI Repair Loans
523 Self-Help TA
538 Rental Hsg. Guar.
Rental Prsrv. Demo. (MPR)
Rural Community Development Initiatives
Rental Preservation TA
The Legislative Council for the Indiana General Assembly released a resolution on May 21, outlining the study topics assigned to state legislators in interim study committees. There are several critical topics to Prosperity Indiana's member network and we will keep you updated as to when these meetings are scheduled and how to get engaged in advocacy related to these topics!
Revisions to the Uniform Consumer Credit Code (including payday lending).
State tax credits and other issues related to workforce housing and affordable housing. (Source: HB 1234-2019 (as introduced); Letter Lt. Gov. Crouch.
The recurring tax incentive review for the Neighborhood Assistance Tax Credit Program, Individual Development Assistance Tax Credit Program and the low income housing exemption
Today, Prosperity Indiana submitted a letter on behalf of our network in response to the proposal to rescind the commonsense ability-to-repay requirements of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (the Bureau)’s 2017 payday and vehicle title loan rule (“Ability-to-Repay Rule” or “Rule”). Payday lending is associated with greater risk of delinquency on rent payments and other bills, delayed medical care, overdraft fees, loss of bank accounts, and bankruptcy. It can also inflict severe psychological harm, including distress resulting from aggressive debt collection practices
Prosperity Indiana's letter cited polling from Indiana, conducted by Bellwether Consulting on behalf of numerous consumer coalition partners. As the letter outlines, the poll found "87 percent of respondents saying payday loans are a financial burden versus a financial relief; 94 percent said they are expensive versus inexpensive; and 84 percent said they are harmful versus helpful. Of critical importance to the CFPB’s proposed rule, 78 percent support requiring payday loan lenders to determine a borrower’s ability to pay back a loan without defaulting on other expenses."
Our letter noted that "in Indiana, advocates for consumers and strong
communities will continue to push for a statewide cap on payday loans. Prosperity Indiana will continue to expand the non-profit Community Loan Center program, offering consumers a low-cost payday alternative through employer partnerships. We will continue to strive for greater equity in lending and work to remedy the fact that many regulated banks have divested in communities of color while payday lenders are found to be 2.4 times more concentrated in African American and Latino communities."
The letter concluded by urging Director Kraninger to stand by the CFPB's mission: "In Indiana, we are working hard to empower consumers and support communities to reach that goal, but payday lending is undermining our efforts. The CFPB should be fulfilling its mission to protect consumers from unfair and deceptive practices and move forward with implementing the payday rule and maintaining the ability to repay standard. We urge you to reconsider this proposal and stand by consumers."
Prosperity Indiana also joined numerous consumer coalition partners in sending this letter as well: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=CFPB-2019-0006-25771
The Annual Action Plan is part of consolidated planning process, which serves as the framework to identify housing and community development priorities that align and focus funding from the CPD formula block grant programs: Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program, HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) Program, Housing Trust Fund (HTF), Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) Program, and Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA) Program. The Consolidated Plan is carried out through Annual Action Plans, which provide a concise summary of the actions, activities, and the specific federal and non-federal resources that will be used each year to address the priority needs and specific goals identified by the Consolidated Plan.
As part of the annual process of reviewing progress made toward goals stated in the 5-year Consolidated Plan and a description of allocation priorities, OCRA and IHCDA conduct public hearings, issue an online survey and solicit written public comments. Prosperity Indiana plans to engage our members throughout the year as both agencies work on program design and the next five-year Consolidated Plan. We urge our members to participate in these meetings to help shape state priorities for allocating federal housing and community development dollars. If you have any questions about this process or our feedback, please contact Prosperity Indiana’s Policy Director, Kathleen Lara, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We invite you to click on the link below to watch our Spring Policy Update from April 24, as Prosperity Indiana’s Policy Director Kathleen Lara updated members on the status of state and federal priorities critical to our network! This webinar covered the latest news from the Indiana General Assembly to Capitol Hill related to our efforts expand affordable housing, protect consumers, and strengthen Hoosier communities.
Prosperity Indiana Policy Update.mp4
This year, Prosperity Indiana saw some important policy wins, but legislators also failed to enact bills that would have propelled community development in our state. Here's everything you need to know about how we spent the last four months as your voice in the Statehouse and the work ahead to help more Hoosiers achieve housing and economic security!
(Note you can enjoy a more dynamic review of session work and priorities by checking out a recording of our April 24 Policy Update webinar, covering updates regarding state, federal, and administrative priorities)
This year was a long-session for legislators, meaning they needed to pass a statewide budget and adjourn by April 29. In contrast to the chaotic end of last year’s session, the General Assembly actually adjourned late last Wednesday, April 24.
House and Senate Leaders started this year’s session with an agenda focused on passing a balanced budget, making changes to existing workforce development programs, increasing funding for the Department of Child Services, funding for schools, teacher pay and school safety.
Governor Holcomb outlined his priorities under the banner of his Next Level Agenda, urging legislators to take action to increase teacher pay, pass an inclusive bias-crimes bill, expand broadband services in rural Indiana, expanding the Next Level Jobs initiative, and make improvements to the Department of Child Services.
Based on member feedback and engagement, Prosperity Indiana started session with an ambitious agenda focused on expanded tax credit resources for affordable housing and community development, working to enhance tenant protections for renters and expanding consumer protections to help more low-income households build assets! Thankfully, more than 30 members attended our Statehouse Day on January 29 to help build support for our state agenda, despite the polar vortex reigning subzero temperatures down on our state!
Bill: SB 104/HB 1098 Sen. Greg Walker (R- Columbus) and Rep. Carey Hamilton (D- Indianapolis) introduced a primary priority for Prosperity Indiana—putting a stop to the payday debt trap in Indiana by instituting a 36 percent cap Click here for our one pager with more details
Outcome: This session saw an important success in that SB 104 not only received a comprehensive hearing, but received enough votes to advance out of the Senate Financial Institutions Committee. Unfortunately, on the week SB 104 passed out of committee, the Senate Energy and Commerce Committee voted to advance a bill (SB 613) that had a strip-and-insert amendment that dramatically expanded high-cost subprime loans and allowed for auto title lending. While SB 104 failed in a floor vote in the Senate, SB 613, passed and moved over to the House for consideration. Despite intense advocacy efforts from Prosperity Indiana and a coalition of more than 100 faith-based, veterans and social service organizations, the bill was approved in the committee. Fortunately, our collective advocacy efforts were successful in ensuring it did not have the votes to be approved on the House floor! Click here for more details on the bill.
Bill: 1495: Rep. Vanessa Summers (D-Indianapolis), Ed Clere (R- New Albany), and Rita Fleming (D- Jeffersonville) Prosperity Indiana joined partners the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana and the Indiana Institute for Working Families to support this bill that aimed to provide greater transparency and modest guardrails to land contracts for homeownership. As this article in the Indiana Lawyer describes, land contracts can be a viable alternative homeownership model, but without any clarity in state law in how to treat them, we have seen large scale sellers churning borrowers in and out of properties who lose all of their investments along the way. HB 1495 would have required the disclosure of basic information about the property and loan terms, such as the annual percentage rate of the contract, existing liens on the property, whether or not seller or buyer will be paying real estate taxes. It also would have required an FHA appraisal to allow borrowers to know some critical information about the property. For our coverage of this bill on our blog, see this post: https://www.prosperityindiana.org/Policy-News/7291254
Outcome: While the bill passed the House handily, the bill passed the Senate by only one vote on the guarantee it would be sent to Conference Committee to work out differences between House- and Senate-passed versions. Ultimately, on the final day of session, the House approved the Conference Report, but it did not get enough votes in the Senate to advance to the Governor’s desk.
Bill: HB 1616: Rep. Jim Pressel (R- Rolling Prarie) would have created/funded two new tax credits focused on expanding affordable housing and homeownership for low-income Hoosiers, complementing the existing Neighborhood Assistance Program. Click here for our one pager with more details.
Bill: HB 1234: Rep. Jim Pressel (R- Rolling Prarie) also introduced HB 1234, a bill that would have created/funded a state Affordable Housing Tax Credit program. Click here for our one pager with more details HB 1234.
Outcomes: Unfortunately, with the state budget constraints, the House Ways and Means Committee did not opt not advance funding for programs beyond those identified in leadership priorities. Prosperity Indiana will continue conversations with House leaders about the scale of affordable housing needs across our state to lay the groundwork for increased funding in the 2021 budget session.
Prosperity Indiana worked to introduce two critical bills aimed at addressing serious habitability concerns and increase tenant protections to help curb the eviction crisis in our state.
Bill: SB 422: Sen. Mike Bohacek (R-Michiana Shores) indtroduced a bill to allow a renter to be able to get out of a lease if a unit was not habitable upon move-in and to update our notice to quit statute, that allows a 10-day window for a tenant to cure if they fall behind on rent, so that it would apply to all leases instead of just oral/informal leases. Click here for our one pager with more details.
Outcome: This bill received a hearing that allowed Prosperity Indiana to outline the scale of the eviction crisis in our state, but the Chairman introduced an amendment that blunted the effectiveness of the bill, so the language that was voted out of committee did not improve landlord-tenant law in a way that made it worthwhile to advance.
Bill: SB 524: Sen. Eddie Melton (D-Gary) introduced SB 524, as comprehsenive statement on the numerous updates to our state’s landlord-tenant laws that are needed to bring about greater housing stability. The bill included provisions to allow for rent withholding, expand legal aid in eviction court, seal eviction records in cases where the court does not enter a judgement, limit security deposits and increase the timeframe for notice of rent increases. Click here for our one pager with more details.
utcome: this was an ambitious bill that ultimately did not receive a hearing, but it is critical to our state to implement some of these changes and Prosperity Indiana will continue legislator outreach on the need and scale of the eviction crisis in our state to advance these goals over the summer and fall before the next legislative session
HB 1628 passed and expands the On My Way Pre-K to be offered statewide while the funding levels would remain about the same at $22 million per year. Importantly, the bill removed barriers to enrollment in the program. Sen. Melton was successful in amending the bill to permit parents or guardians to qualify if they receive Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits to help reduce barriers to enrollment.
HB 1141 passed and addresses the traffic and license reinstatement fees, providing a temporary amnesty program where fees can be reduced by 50 percent so fewer drivers are forced to choose between driving illegally or losing their jobs, childcare, and education.
SB 111 passed and provides $100,000 in annual grant opportunities for community- and faith-based substance abuse programs. The bill also provides $50,000 annually to the community- and faith-based substance abuse transportation assistance grant program.
HB 1001, the budget bill for the year, passed with the following spending outcomes: $753 million in increased school funding, this includes $539 million in added tuition support, and $140 million for school districts to spend based on their priorities (with discussion focused on the need to increase teacher pay), and $74 million more for statewide grant programs, including school safety funding.
HB 1002- is a workforce bill that passed and would expand the eligibility for high school students interested in applying for new state workforce grants that will help pay for students to receive credentials in certain fields. The bill also prioritizes funding for workforce programs deemed to be high achieving and provide more resources for schools to partner with employers on work-based learning opportunities.
Bias Crimes- The Governor was active in advocating for an inclusive Hate Crimes bill, alongside Prosperity Indiana members and partners, and while SB 198 did pass. The language omitted gender identity from the list of protected classes, falling short of goal of human service and civil rights organizations that have fought for an inclusive hate crimes bill for years.
Gaming – HB 1015- A comprehensive gambling bill was passed to legalize sports betting, both at bricks-and-mortar facilities and on mobile devices statewide. It also includes payments to four cities in the state that anticipate revenue loss due to new casinos and likely authorizes a new casino in Terre Haute.
Today, the Senate passed HB 1495, sending the bill to conference committee where legislators will negotiate bill changes between Senate- and the House-passed versions. As this article in the Indiana Lawyer describes, this bill aims to provide greater transparency and modest guardrails to land contracts for homeownership. While not new, these contracts have exploded in number, particularly in Indiana where communities were hit hard by the foreclosure crisis.
Communities with thousands of vacant homes circulating on tax sales have been purchased as investment properties, but many have also been purchased by speculators, acquiring numerous homes with low values and severe habitability issues to sell to aspiring homeowners on contract at inflated prices. In these transactions, borrowers enter into agreements with sellers who transfer the title at the end of the mortgage, rather than the beginning as you would in traditional mortgages.
While this can be a viable alternative homeownership model, without any clarity in state law in how to treat them, we have unfortunately seen large scale sellers churning borrowers in and out of properties who lose all of their investments along the way. Regularly, these borrowers invest thousands in repairs only to be evicted when they are underwater, unable to keep up with repairs, balloon payments, fees, etc. and they lose all of their equity invested in these properties.
That is because land contracts shift all the burdens and obligations of homeownership to the buyers with none of the rights or protections of homeownership. This transaction has fallen into a no man’s land of policy, with court opinions differing on whether or not it’s a rental contract which would have some habitability standards or a true lending contract.
HB 1495 does not in any way attempt to prevent people from offering or signing these homeownership arrangements, only to provide needed clarity for all parties. In recognition that some individuals offer these contracts informally and not as their primary business, the provisions only apply to those who are regularly engaged in the business of selling land contracts and have four or more outstanding land contracts at a given time.
It does not require a standardized contract, but instead would have the Attorney General publish the necessary contract components or the contract can be considered voidable.
This bill would require disclosure of basic information about the property and loan terms, such as the annual percentage rate of the contract, existing liens on the property, whether or not seller or buyer will be paying real estate taxes, for instance that provide clarity for the borrower and the seller.
Rather than calling for a full inspection that would be required for a traditional mortgage, the bill would have these contracts include an appraisal within the previous year to allow borrowers to know some critical information about the property without the full inspection process.
Since this bill does not provide for an extensive inspection process, there will be a three-day cooling off period where the buyer or the seller may deliver to the other party a written notice of cancellation to account for misrepresentation of the property
The legislation is authored by Representative Vanessa Summers, co-authored by Representatives Clere, Fleming, Woody Burton and sponsored by Senators Bohacek, J.D. Ford, and Breaux.
For more information, contact Kathleen Lara, at email@example.com.
Due in large part to your outreach, testimony, meetings, calls and emails, lawmakers stood with a broad coalition of veterans, faith leaders, community and social service organizations by choosing not to call SB 613 to the floor on the third reading deadline, killing the bill.
Please join us in thanking legislators who opposed this measure throughout session. We look forward to working with lawmakers to discuss reforms to high-cost loan products that exploit Hoosiers facing housing and financial hardship, as well as ways to foster sustainable alternatives.
A recent report update from the National Low Income Housing Coalition illustrates the critical need for affordable housing in Indiana. NLIHC researchers found that there is a 134,485-unit shortage of affordable, available rental housing for the 212,377 extremely low-income (ELI) renter Hoosier households. Households that are severely cost=burdened and are spending more than half of their income on housing are bearing the brunt of this crisis, and are more likely than other renters to forgo healthy foods and healthcare in an effort to pay for rent.
Additionally, they are more likely to experience evictions. Indiana currently has one of the highest eviction rates in the nation. To view the entire Indiana state profile, click here.