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Fair Housing reports finds tenant screening barriers in Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Tenants are finding it harder to get rental approval due to barriers in the screening process, according to a new report from the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana. People of color and domestic violence survivors are some of the most impacted.

The report pulls from data collected in Indianapolis. In a housing market already near capacity, the screening process eliminates even more people from securing housing, and advocates say rental laws in Indiana offer very little protection.

Indianapolis, like most of the country, is facing a housing crisis. According to a new report by the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana, people who live along the margins are most at risk of losing the housing they have or finding it.

“This report highlighted in our very tight rental market, where there aren’t many vacancies,” said FFCCI executive director Amy Nelson.

She says tenant screening barriers create particular problems for black, immigrant, renters, people with disabilities, criminal histories, and domestic violence survivors.

“There may be times where the individual actually hasn’t done anything wrong.”

According to the report, credit scores, stringent criminal screenings, evictions, and even eviction filings kept people from securing housing. Due to vague screening policies, people are spending lots in application and hold fees.

Nelson says actual eviction and eviction filing often hold the same weight.

“There’s no protection currently in Indiana related to that, but it’s ridiculous right. Especially if it ends up getting worked out between them and the landlord. Again, it could have been a retaliatory eviction for contacting public health. It could have been any number of factors.”

Nelson says for years, housing advocacy agencies have been pushing against data scraping, where companies rush to collect data to ultimately sell.

Data that isn’t always true, such as mismatched names, expunged records being considered, and distorted reports

“Their record should not have had the entries on it, and the result was individuals having to spend some time trying to get that corrected.”

Nelson says such barriers makes navigating a difficult rental market all the more challenging.

Fair housing representatives say if you’ve recently been denied based on your rental history, they’d like to interview you.