I-Team 8

Lack of communication, easy access driving IndyRent complaints

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — There is an urgent need to get rental assistance approved in Indianapolis, and some people facing eviction in the city say the process is taking too long.

The city of Indianapolis told I-Team 8 it has plenty of money for rental assistance and has even extended some of the programs. I-Team 8 is getting emails every day from people struggling to access that money.

Two women, Hassie Holmes and Kesha Pitts, say they’ve been struggling with access to the IndyRent website.

“There are people like me that have held on for so long,” Kolmes said. “We are heading into the cold winter months. We are right close to the holidays and me being just back to work a few months, it doesn’t give you enough time. I can’t pay that back right away.”

Holmes and Pitts say the website is difficult to navigate and it’s almost impossible to get answers over the phone. And answers over email take even longer. Pitts has reapplied for rental assistance and was given a code via email that didn’t work.

The emails with the code sent from IndyRent are no-reply emails, which meant she had to call for help. She was placed on hold for hours, and when someone finally answered her call, it led to more confusion and more frustration. However, someone from IndyRent called her after I-Team 8 contacted the city Tuesday.

“When she called today, she asked me, ‘Yeah, um, IT is working on it,'” Pitts said. “Well, I said, ‘That wasn’t informed to me that IT was working on it. You know, I didn’t get a response.’ And that is when she went over everything step by step and it still didn’t work.”

After she got off the phone with IndyRent, there was still a problem with her access code.

“And the link was sent back to me again; still the same thing,” Pitts said.

The access code still was not working. While I-Team 8 was interviewing Pitts, the city called and said it is working to resolve her issues.

Holmes has been attempting to navigate the IndyRent system for months. She was awarded one month’s rent, but when she went to re-apply, the website didn’t recognize her original application number. So she filled out another application and is waiting for a confirmation email.

“And it is very hard for me to set back and relax and just wait for that email,” Holmes said. “They have made it impossible for people who are in really dire situations to reach anyone.”

Holmes was furloughed from her travel agency position in March of 2020. Unemployment benefits kept her head above water until she was able to get back to work earlier this year. She did fall behind on her rent and has set up a repayment program with her landlord. She — like Pitts — has spent hours on the phone waiting for help, help she isn’t sure is coming.

“I have called, I have emailed, I have not received a reply back,” Holmes said.

The city did send a statement: “The IndyRents program continues to reach out to previous recipients to reapply for additional funds. Moving chronologically in the order that tenants applied.”

The city will not discuss individual cases. However, I-Team 8 is told the city is working to resolve any login or communication issues with both women.