Make your home page

Indiana faces growing shortage of affordable housing

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Many in Indianapolis are still struggling amid an affordable housing shortage.

The Biden administration is now taking another step toward solving the crisis nationwide.

There’s a growing shortage of affordable housing in Indiana.

Fran Quigley, a clinical professor at the Indiana University McKinney School of Law, said, “There’s a real crisis going on and this Biden administration announcement has a lot of nice languages, but not yet any real effect.”

According to the Indiana University Public Policy Institute Center for Research on Inclusion and Social Policy, more than 217,000 extremely low-income renter households were in Indiana in 2020, and 72% of these families pay more than half of their income to rent.

Quigley said, “What tenant advocates were requesting from the Biden administration is to at least slow down the rent spikes that we’re seeing. Rent has gone up an average of 20% over the last couple of years. Many people they’ve seen go up even larger. Folks are getting evicted without good cause.”

The chief executive officers of the Indianapolis Housing Agency, Marcia Lewis, also has raised concerns about the affordable housing shortage. “It is very much a challenge, and I think that there are many folks, advocates, and folks in the industry, we’re continually trying to find ways to augment, bring new units online, and explore choice into areas that traditionally have not provided affordable rents and affordable housing.”

Lewis added, “Some strategies are to buy existing, some strategies are to renovate, and some strategies are to build new constructions. All of those things are being done. We partner together. Sometimes, our agency will partner with builders and developers to provide the affordable vouchers that may go with the units they might build.”

To help solve the crisis, the Biden administration released new plans to protect tenants, making renting more affordable and improving fairness in the rental housing market. Biden says, for the first time, the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will gather information to identify practices that unfairly prevent people from accessing or staying in housing.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development also will propose requiring housing authorities and owners of rental assistance properties to give a 30-day notice before terminating a lease due to nonpayment of rent.

Quigley said, “There is some promising language in there for some potential future actions by the federal government. The bad news is it’s more like the opening steps of a marathon than it crossing the finishing line. This is really just starting the conversation, unfortunately.”

According to Lewis, though they have received funding from the government, people still need additional assistance. “Given the amount of time that we’ve fallen behind, it helps, but we need more, and I don’t know if they’ll ever be enough to really address all of the needs.”

Brendan Bow, a program analyst at the Indiana University Public Policy Institute Center for Research on Inclusion and Social Policy, said that legislators need to push for policies that will help tackle the affordable housing issue. “In most other states, renters can pay for the repairs themselves, so you can kind of fix it yourself and then deduct that from your rent because you’re paying to fix the house that you’re paying to live in. Indiana does not allow that. There’s no statute that would allow that, so there are definitely things that the state can look at to sort of bring us back up to what other states are doing.”