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Indiana House bill targets gentrification, home appraisal bias

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — An Indiana House representative says gentrification is hitting the African-American community but also pockets of the white community.

That’s part of the reason behind two House bills she has written. The General Assembly began its 2022 session earlier this month.

Fountain Square is known for its architecture and art scene, and some residents say gentrification is becoming more obvious. While there are some areas that look nicer, it’s having a negative impact on some of the community’s lower-income and older residents.

You can see rows of small homes with white picket fences all around Fountain Square. But right next door, you can often find mansions worth half-a-million dollars.

“It’s all about the money. That’s what it is. If you don’t have no money, what are you do?” Donald Denton said.

He says he’s been living in the area for about 18 years and it’s nice seeing the improvements, but he questions the overall costs of gentrification.

“So expensive, everything is so expensive. You can’t afford to eat anymore. You can’t afford to go out and do anything anymore,” he said.

House Minority Floor Leader Cherrish Pryor, an Indianapolis Democrat, said gentrification has a wide reach. “Oftentimes when we think of gentrification and revitalization, we think of it being just a Black issue.”

But, some may not realize how much it touches white and other low-income communities. She’s hoping her House Bill 1325 helps provide relief.

“The people who have been there for years are now finding it difficult to stay in their homes, and it’s important for us to make sure that we are having something in place where we’re not pushing people out.”

She said the bill would protect longtime residents by providing relief from property tax increases, specifically targeting homeowners who’ve lived in the neighborhood for 10 years or more with an assessed home value of less than $200,000.

“Many of these individuals their properties are paid for. So, they don’t have mortgage on those homes,” Pryor said.

She also introduced House Bill 1326. It, in part, would protect families in the home appraisal process, create a state law making redlining illegal, and establish a fund providing down-payment assistance for mortgages.