Make your home page

Multilingual housing guide to help Indiana immigrants

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — As the housing crisis hits Indiana’s growing immigrant community, two agencies are partnering to ease challenges in the application process.

Immigrant Welcome Center representatives say it’s safe to say all new immigrants face housing insecurity, especially if they don’t already have family here or a sponsor. Then you add missing documentation and identification, it becomes an uphill climb.

Housing is one of the top resources searched for immigrants in Indiana. The crisis seen across the state is even more concentrated in undocumented communities when you factor in missing documentation and language barriers.

“In order to lease an apartment or house, the first thing you’re asked for is the Social Security number. So if you don’t have one, the door has already been shut,” said Mistie Rivas, who works with the Immigrant Welcome Center.

Last year the agency helped support nearly 6,000 immigrants representing 45 countries and speaking 30 languages, and the commitment to providing support remains strong.

“A lot of the people who are fleeing for their lives come to the United States empty-handed with nothing but the clothes on their backs,” Rivas said.

In partnership with the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana, they’ve rolled out a multilingual resource for immigrant families in different languages, outlining alternative documents that can be used in the housing application process.

An important tool as many families fleeing violence left documents and had them taken or stolen.

“An example would be proof of identity. An undocumented immigrant can’t obtain a state ID in Indiana. So an alternative would be to allow immigrants to show identity through a passport of country of origin. Or in Indianapolis, we have the Mexican consulate,” Rivas said.

In addition to this resource, a guide for landlords and property managers to know what alternative documents are acceptable.

“It is incredibly important for us to continue to advocate for the most vulnerable populations,” Rivas said.