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North Central Region
As we referenced in our federal budget update in late June, increases in U.S. House-passed FY20 funding bills for housing and community development programs within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) would not have a chance of enactment unless Congress agreed to lift spending caps put in place under the Budget Control Act of 2011. Further, if no deal was reached, discretionary programs faced a 10 percent cut across-the-board.
Fortunately, both chambers passed a budget deal before heading out for August recess that would lift the budget caps by about $50 billion this year and another $54 billion the following year and the debt for two years. The package passed by a vote of 284-189 in the House. 67-28 in the Senate. The agreement has received support from President Trump who plans to sign the bill this afternoon and averts prospects of a government shutdown prospects ahead of current funding deadline (October 1).
Under the budget deal, domestic programs will receive a 4.5 percent increase over current FY19 spending levels. Unfortunately, that leaves funding overall at $15 billion less than the House proposed budget.
The work ahead for Prosperity Indiana and our members is to remain focused on Senate budget negotiations that will commence in September now that Congress passed this agreement. We will urge our Senators to pass urgently needed increases in funding for community development programs at House-passed levels. Too see a breakdown of that funding, click here for our chart of programs.
Prosperity Indiana provided the following comments to the Department of Housing and Urban Development's proposed rule to prohibit “mixed-status” families from living in public housing and Section 8 units.
HUD claims that the rule is necessary to prevent undocumented immigrants from benefiting from federal housing assistance. However, existing law already does this. Right now, a family’s rent subsidy is decreased (or prorated) to account for household members who are ineligible for the assistance based on immigration status.
The truth is that this rule proposal
Docket No. HUD-2019-0044
July 9, 2019
Office of General Counsel, Rules Docket Clerk
Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th Street SW, Room 10276
Washington, DC 20410
To Whom It May Concern:
Prosperity Indiana appreciates the opportunity to express our strong opposition to Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) proposed rule that would impose new burdensome, damaging changes regarding the "verification of eligible status.” Our organization represents a network of more than 170 community development organizations dedicated to helping low-income Hoosiers achieve and maintain housing and economic security in each of our state’s 92 counties.
Our members strive to ensure all Hoosiers can access safe, stable and affordable housing. This proposal to prohibit “mixed-status" families from living in public and federally-assisted housing through Housing Choice Vouchers and Section 8 Project-Based Rental assistance, the three largest HUD housing programs, undermines those efforts. This rule would force families who receive benefits to face eviction from subsidized housing after 18 months for living with those who are ineligible for assistance.
Secretary Carson has characterized the proposed rule as a means to help “legitimate American citizens,” so that we can “put America’s most vulnerable first.” In explaining the justification for implementing this proposal, Carson noted that “there are hundreds of thousands of children, as well as elderly and disabled, who are on the waiting list who are legal American citizens.” In our view, it is most important to note that this rule will do nothing to further achieve those aims, as current law already prohibits ineligible households from receiving assistance.
Section 214 states that the Secretary of HUD is prohibited from making financial assistance available to persons other than United States citizens, nationals, or certain categories of eligible noncitizens in HUD's public and specified assisted housing programs. Further, United States Code defines how HUD should comply in upholding that regulation, while allowing for mixed-status households.
42 U.S. Code § 1436a(b)(2) states:
“If the eligibility for financial assistance of at least one member of a family has been affirmatively established under the program of financial assistance and under this section, and the ineligibility of one or more family members has not been affirmatively established under this section, any financial assistance made available to that family by the applicable Secretary shall be prorated, based on the number of individuals in the family for whom eligibility has been affirmatively established under the program of financial assistance and under this section, as compared with the total number of individuals who are members of the family.”
As clearly outlined, housing for mixed-status households is allowed, albeit prorated to ensure the regulation is fulfilled and those who are not eligible for housing assistance do not receive a subsidy.
Instead of providing a new protection against potential abuse, the rule promotes misinformation about immigrant communities. Mixed-status families are those that include both members who are eligible and ineligible for housing assistance based on their immigration status. Being an immigrant who is ineligible for housing assistance does not mean they are not legal residents or undocumented. Immigrants can have legal status and still not be eligible for federally assisted housing programs.
Additionally, the proposal does not alleviate long waits for housing assistance. The proposal’s practical impact will be to force families of mixed immigration status to break up to receive housing assistance, forego the assistance altogether, or face termination from the programs. By HUD’s own analysis, this measure would force more than 55,000 children, who are U.S. citizens or legal residents, to face eviction under the proposed rule . This comes at a time when community development organizations throughout Indiana, and in other states across this country, are working harder than ever to confront an affordable housing crisis. Our communities can ill afford this misguided policy when there are already measures ensuring public funds are being used to assist only eligible individuals.
In Indiana, 46 percent of renters are cost-burdened and 86 households are evicted every day. Our state has a 134,485-unit deficit of housing that is affordable and available for extremely low-income households (those earning at or below 30 percent of area median income). Only one-in-four households eligible for federal assistance receives it. Prosperity Indiana shares HUD’s concern about long waiting lists for housing assistance. However, we believe the Administration should focus on increasing budget requests to address the critical need for expanded affordable housing production and preservation, rather than destabilizing housing or forcing family separation for thousands of eligible, legal residents and citizens.
The proposed rule imposes new, expensive and onerous documentation requirements for thousands of housing agencies and private property owners, who would have to collect documents “proving” the citizenship for the more than nine (9) million housing-assisted residents under the age of 62 to be screened through the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program (SAVE) within the Department of Homeland Security. This added reporting is a waste of resources to require citizens, who have already attested under penalty of perjury, to “prove” that they are U.S. citizens.
Critically, this will most certainly affect households beyond those who are mixed-status. Studies, including one from the Brennan Center for Justice, show that citizens with low incomes are more likely than others to lack both proof of citizenship or other forms of identification . The Brennan Center study found 12 percent of U.S. citizens with incomes below $25,000 lack proof of citizenship, and adults earning under $35,000 are twice as likely as others to lack a government-issued photo ID. The elderly, people of color and women are also less likely to have identifying documents. Accordingly, the proposed rule will likely affect eligible households without mixed-status, as well as those that are mixed-status.
Compliance with these regulations represents a tremendous cost and burden for housing authorities and private owners of Section 8-assisted properties. In Indiana, no protection from source of income discrimination exists, so affordable housing organizations and shelters statewide already report challenges in helping low-income individuals and families access affordable housing, particularly because landlords do not want to accept Section 8 vouchers. This rule will further deter private housing providers from participating in Section 8 programs, worsening already substantial barriers to housing affordability for low-income Hoosiers.
On behalf of our network striving to ensure more residents of Indiana can prosper and live in safe, secure housing, we urge HUD to withdraw this proposal and appreciate your consideration.
Jessica LoveExecutive Director
Thanks in part to your advocacy and response to our Action Alert, the U.S. House passed a package of FY20 funding bills on June 25 that includes critically needed increased funding for housing and community development programs within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) by a vote of 227-194.
It is important for Prosperity Indiana members to note, however, that before any spending bill can go into effect, Congress must agree to lift spending caps put in place under the Budget Control Act of 2011. If that does not occur, these programs could face 10 percent cuts across-the-board. We urge members to continue speaking to your Representative and our Senators about the need to reach agreement on such a measure.
As an overview, this House bill provides urgently needed increases, in funding for Housing Counseling, Section 202 Housing for the Elderly, Section 811 Housing for People with Disabilities, and Homeless Assistance Grants. It also includes enough funding to renew all existing Housing Choice Vouchers and Project-Based Rental Assistance contracts.
There were some amendments passed that found mechanisms to increase funding for Homeless Assistance Grants - one aimed at serving youth experiencing homelessness ($5 million) and another to study transitional housing grants ($1 million). Our Prosperity Indiana federal budget chart is below.
In terms of policy amendments of importance to PI members, there was one passed that would examine alternative methods for calculating Fair Market Rents in shifting markets with rapidly rising rents. Despite amendment proposals, the bill retained language that would prevent the administration from imposing it's mixed-status rule proposal and from amending the Equal Access rule to allow homeless shelters to deny equal treatment for transgender individuals experiencing homelessness.
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 House is set to consider amendments to H.R. 3055 today! This bill includes critical increases in funding for housing and community development programs at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). We urge members to expand our outreach to the Indiana delegation by:
Sending this pre-dafted letter urging your Representative to support the bill as well as amendments that would increase investments in affordable housing for low-income households and oppose any amendments that would reduce funding for HUD and USDA programs.
The letter also urges Representatives to support the bill’s policy provisions, including the provision that would prevent HUD from implementing the proposal that would force mixed-status immigrant families – including children who are U.S. citizens or have legal status – to either separate or face eviction and possible homelessness.
Call your Representative directly. See below for helpful talking points. You can easily find/confirm your representative by entering your address under the "Find Politicians" box on our Advocacy Action Center. If you already know your Representative, you can dial the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.
For more details, click here to read our summary of the budget bill, including a complete budget chart, or here to read a summary of the Appropriation's Committee's consideration of the bill.
Please contact Kathleen Lara at email@example.com with any questions. Thank you for your advocacy!
On the heels of the release of the 2019 Out of Reach report, several media outlets took note and ran stories that lift up why this housing wage data is so critical and why our advocacy work to expand the supply of affordable housing is essential to ensuring more Hoosiers have the opportunity to prosper. Below are the highlights:
POSTED 4:33 PM, JUNE 18, 2019, BY RUSS MCQUAID, UPDATED AT 06:59PM, JUNE 18, 2019
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-- A woman who didn’t want to give her name explained what it cost to live at the Maple Creek Apartments on West Michigan Street west of Haughville.
“It's $628 a month,” she said. “I make about $900 gross a month.”
That's two-thirds of her money going to rent. How does she pay for clothes, electricity and food?
“It's very hard. I’m a single mother,” she said. “I get my bills aside and I calculate them all up and pay what’s important and what’s not important I leave to the side and pay’s over.”
The anonymous mom is one of tens of thousands of Hoosiers that a new study finds can’t afford to live in suitable housing at a reasonable rate.
“Out of Reach: The High Cost of Housing," a study released jointly by Prosperity Indiana and The National Low Income Housing Coalition, reported a worker must earn $16.02 an hour to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment or a minimum wage employee must work 88 hours a week to pay the rent in a comparable unit.
“Data shows that the typical renter income is insufficient to afford rental housing in 82 of Indiana’s 92 counties,” said Jessica Love, Prosperity Indiana’s Executive Director. “For Hoosiers working full-time at minimum wage, there is a monthly deficit of over $450 to afford the state average fair market rate for a modest two-bedroom unit.”
A Prosperity Indiana statement quotes Love as calling for “an urgent need for action in implementing common-sense solutions at the federal and state level to address our affordable housing crisis.”
Derrick Maxwell is a former leasing agent at Maple Creek who stayed on a resident.
“Some of the residents are on Social Security, most retired vets and things like that, they don’t have the means because they’re set on a steady income and I feel like they should not be ostracized because they are on a fixed income,” said Maxwell who estimates he pays a quarter of his monthly income in rent. “There’s not a lot of jobs here in Indianapolis that are…or maybe these people don’t have the type of skill settings and training to make those type of jobs and make that money so it's kind of hard and you’re forced to live in areas where you would prefer not to be in because you only meet their income limit.”
Back east along West Michigan Street at White River Parkway, work continues on the Riverview Apartments, a complex developed by Goodwill and Strategic Capital Partners.
“It's targeted to families with incomes of $40-60,000 and really those that focus in that area,” said Goodwill Vice President Cindy Graham. “When we started to take a look at what was happening in the Indianapolis rental market and seeing that some of those people that are in those mid-level jobs like nursing, teachers, firemen, policemen, are really getting priced out of the fair market pricing market in the downtown area, yet their services are still needed.”
The one- and two-bedroom apartments will rent for an average of $1.35 per square foot, about ten percent less than the average rental costs in downtown.
“You would be surprised to know that Goodwill has teachers,” said Graham. “We operate 14 adult high schools and a traditional school right here on this property and we have nurses who work for us, too, so we actually have employees who would qualify for workforce housing.”
Market analysts report downtown Indianapolis’ residential rental occupancy rate is 93%, down three percent from a couple years ago, as the Mile Square is set to absorb another 1300 new rental units coming on line in 2019.
Back at Maple Creek, the woman who feared that revealing her name would anger the landlord said she had good reasons to cut corners in order to keep a roof over her family’s heads.
“If you don’t have a house, your kids gonna go to the State and you’re gonna be homeless,” she said, “and I don’t want to be homeless.”
By Mike Perleberg
A new report found the cost of remaining stably housed continues to rise for average Hoosier renters in most Indiana counties. Decent housing is out of reach for low-wage workers in every county of the state.
(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) - A new study says rents are unaffordable for low-wage workers in southeastern Indiana, as well as most of the state.
The report - Out of Reach: The High Cost of Housing - from Prosperity Indiana and the National Low Income Housing Coalition says that in order to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent on $834 in Indiana, a household must earn $2,779 monthly – or about $33,346 annually. The needed pay figure is up from last year’s study.
With almost a third of households statewide being rented, data shows that typical renter income is insufficient to afford rental housing in 82 of the state’s 92 counties. Included in that list are Dearborn, Franklin, Ohio and Ripley counties, where estimated average renter wages are among the lowest in the state.
The study suggests renters in southeastern Indiana have to work more than one 40-hour week job at the average renter wage in order to have enough money to afford a decent two-bedroom unit. For those making the state minimum wage of $7.25, paying the monthly rent is almost impossible.
In the Cincinnati area, the annual income needed to afford such an apartment is higher at $35,360 than Indiana. About 21 percent of homes in the area are rentals.
“For Hoosiers working full-time at minimum wage, there is a monthly deficit of over $450 to afford the state average fair market rate for a modest two-bedroom unit,” said Jessica Love, Prosperity Indiana’s executive director.
Conservative figures cited in the study show that nearly 32,000 households statewide are evicted each year. With an affordable housing deficit of 134,485 units in Indiana, low-income earners have few options.
Love believes there is “an urgent need for action in implementing common-sense solutions at the federal and state level to address our affordable housing crisis.”
Indiana U.S. Senator Todd Young and others in the Senate last week introduced the HUD Manufactured Housing Modernization Act of 2019. The federal legislation is aimed at improving access to safe and stable housing would provide new support for state and local governments wishing to include manufactured homes as a solution.
“Solving the housing affordability crisis for Hoosiers of all income levels is going to require bold and innovative changes to our nation’s housing policies,” said Young. “With over 2.5 million Hoosiers already living in manufactured homes — and with Hoosier workers leading the way in construction of manufactured housing — I know it’s time to put greater emphasis on manufactured housing as a housing affordability solution.”
Another bill by Young, S. 1772, would establish a task force to assess the impact of the affordable housing crisis and identify possible solutions.
Rental housing needs have worsened considerably over the past 30 years since Out of Reach was first released. Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, says that although housing is out of reach for millions of low-wage workers, members of Congress are starting to take note.
“Big, robust housing bills have been introduced by key policymakers. The topic of affordable housing is becoming increasingly prevalent on the 2020 presidential campaign trails. We now have a tremendous opportunity to implement bold federal housing policy solutions that will fund affordable housing programs at the scale necessary,” said Yentel.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING OUT OF REACH FOR AVERAGE RENTERS IN 82 OF 92 INDIANA COUNTIES, IN ALL 92 FOR LOW-INCOME RENTERS
The cost of remaining stably housed continues to rise for average Hoosier renters in most Indiana counties and is out of reach for low-wage workers in every county of the state, according to a national report released today. The report, Out of Reach: The High Cost of Housing, is 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.
In order to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent in Indiana, renters need to earn $16.03 per hour. That figure is up from $15.56 in 2018, further exacerbating gaps in housing affordability in communities across the state. Working at the minimum wage of $7.25 in Indiana, a worker must have 1.8 full-time jobs or work 71 hours per week to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment; or have 2.2 full-time jobs or work 88 hours per week to afford a two-bedroom apartment.
“Data shows that the typical renter income is insufficient to afford rental housing in 82 of Indiana’s 92 counties,” said Jessica Love, Prosperity Indiana’s Executive Director. “For Hoosiers working full-time at minimum wage, there is a monthly deficit of over $450 to afford the state average fair market rate for a modest two-bedroom unit.” Noting that conservative figures show 31,767 renter households statewide are evicted each year, Love believes there is ”an urgent need for action in implementing common-sense solutions at the federal and state level to address our affordable housing crisis.”
Indiana has a 134,485-unit deficit of affordable, available rental housing for the 27 percent of Indiana renters who earn 30 percent of Area Median Income, a maximum of $24,600 per year for a family of four. The Out of Reach report also highlights, for example, that rent that would be considered affordable for this income threshold is $527, well below the fair market rents for both one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments in Indiana.
Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.), who has introduced legislation aimed at addressing barriers to safe, stable housing, said, “I’ve seen firsthand in Indiana how a lack of affordable housing has negative and lasting consequences. The inability to access safe and affordable homes leaves Hoosier families with fewer dollars to spend on important expenses like health care and groceries. As part of my Fair Shot Agenda, I’ve made solving this crisis a top priority.”
Young added that one such bill, S. 1772, is a bipartisan measure that “would assemble a group of experts to better understand the housing affordability crisis, so that we can take legislative action and end the cycle of poverty for millions of struggling Americans.”
Rental housing needs have worsened considerably over the past 30 years since Out of Reachwas first released, but the time is right to reverse that trend according to Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
Yentel said, “Housing is out of reach for millions of low-wage workers. But members of Congress are starting to take note. Big, robust housing bills have been introduced by key policymakers. The topic of affordable housing is becoming increasingly prevalent on the 2020 presidential campaign trails. We now have a tremendous opportunity to implement bold federal housing policy solutions that will fund affordable housing programs at the scale necessary.”
For additional details, a copy of the Out of Reach 2019 report is available at: https://reports.nlihc.org/oor/indiana
Prosperity Indiana is pleased to lend our support to key initiatives introduced/re-introduced by Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) this month. Bill details are listed below:
On June 4, Senator Young was announced as a co-author of S. 1703, the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2019. This bill will help expand the supply affordable housing for low-income Hoosiers! Below are key highlights of the impact in Indiana:
The bill would produce roughly 1.9 million new affordable housing units over the next decade, an increase of over 550,000 more units than would be built without the legislation. The bill increases the total number of affordable housing units built by:
Increasing the amount of credits allocated to each state by 50% over current levels, resulting in the production of more than 384,000 more affordable homes in the next 10 years than would otherwise be created.
Stabilizing the value of the 4% Affordable Housing Tax Credit – which is used for new construction that uses additional subsidies or the acquisition cost of existing buildings. This will create more certainty for ongoing and new projects and increase affordable housing production by more than 66,000 units.
Expanding and reforming “recycling” of multifamily housing bonds, allowing states to maximize the available resources of private activity bonds by recycling multifamily bonds for affordable housing, resulting in 100,000 additional affordable housing units.
On June 11, Senator Young along with 15 bipartisan senators, reintroduced the Task Force on the Impact of the Affordable Housing Crisis Act (S. 1772) on June 11. The bill would create a bipartisan affordable housing task force to better understand and respond to America’s housing affordability crisis.
This bipartisan task force would:
Additionally, on June 12, Sen. Young joined Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) in introducing the HUD Manufactured Housing Modernization Act of 2019 to ensure that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) supports state and local governments that wish to include manufactured housing as an affordable housing solution when applying for federal funding.
The House Appropriations Committee Approves Housing Bills, Full House Set to Vote This Week
On June 4, the House Appropriations Committee moved forward its FY2020 spending bills for affordable housing, community development, and rural development programs. Click Here to find our earlier blog post that includes the full budget chart breakdown of interest for Prosperity Indiana members.
Both the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) and the Agriculture, Rural Development, funding bills passed by a 29-21 vote. Members of the committee did not offer any amendments related to the housing provisions of either bill. A package of spending bills, including Rural Development and THUD will be considered by the full House of Representatives on the week of June 17.
HUD— The bill provides a total of $50.1 billion for HUD - $5.9 billion above the 2019 enacted level and $13.4 billion above the President’s budget request.
Policy Provisions – In addition to the budget figures, the bill includes the following policy provisions:
Food and Nutrition Programs— The package also includes mandatory funding for food and nutrition programs within the Department of Agriculture. This includes funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and child nutrition programs.
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.