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Eviction sealing clinic providing renter relief, pro bono support

Multicultural Spotlight: Eviction sealing clinic provides renter relief

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana routinely leads the nation in evictions, making the widespread housing crisis even worse.

One eviction can send someone’s ability to find housing into a downward spiral, and climbing out of that for many people can be almost impossible. But an eviction sealing clinic put on by Indiana Legal Services is helping give people who’ve been struggling to find housing for a little while, or even years, a fresh start.

Tiffany Nmose has had a long four years of constantly trying and applying to find stable housing, but she keeps hitting a wall.

“When I left the apartments, I left in good standing. I left thinking that everything was fine. I moved out when the lease was over, but I was completely blindsided,” she said.

Nmose doesn’t have an eviction on her record, but she does have a fee, and that in many cases has the same result.

“I was shocked to find out because I didn’t find out until I started (looking). I was at a place for three years, (then decided) I wanted something bigger. And when I started applying, I kept getting denied,” she said.

Nmose is just one of several hundred who will make their way through this eviction-sealing clinic.

Eviction Lab data shows 27,683 evictions were filed in Marion County last year. That number explodes when you add up multiple years of data.

“Having an attorney for landlord-tenant issues is very important. A lot of times people go to court by themselves without actually knowing the rights,” Maurice Scott with the Marion County Bar Association said.

Indiana Legal Services, in partnership with Marion County Bar Association and Eviction Diversion Initiative of Lawrence Township, is making that happen by providing pro bono legal support and paperwork filing for those who meet certain criteria, like a dismissed eviction, a judge ruling in favor, overturned eviction, judgment for payment not issued or paid in full.

“Indianapolis housing rates in 2022 went up 24%. I don’t know anybody’s income went up 24 %. So, that was number one in the country. So, we’re always top three and evictions, and last year, we were number one in rental rate increases, which affects affordability,” Patrick Chavis with the Eviction Diversion Initiative of Lawrence Township said.

Nmose says she’s not sure if all her problems will be solved here, but is hopeful it’s a start.

“I just want to move somewhere. I just want to live somewhere. I want to be able to have my own place,” she said.