Tenant advocates call for statewide rental assistance plan, longer moratorium on evictions

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) —  Affordable housing advocates urged the governor to halt evictions until a statewide rental assistance plan could be implemented.

Gov. Eric Holcomb signed an order Thursday extending Indiana’s moratorium on evictions and foreclosures to June 30.

However, the extension alone does little more than delay the deadline to find a statewide solution for tenants struggling to pay rent amid the COVID-19 downturn, according to the Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition.

The group issued a series of recommendations for a coordinated housing security response aimed at ensuring no Hoosier becomes homeless due to the pandemic.

The recommendations include halting evictions until July 25, matching the CARES Act’s moratorium on evictions for some federally subsidized properties.

“Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of protections for [Indiana] renters right now,” said Andrew Bradley, a spokesperson for the Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition and policy director for Prosperity Indiana. “Current state guidance is to go to your landlord and try to work out a rental payment.”

Private negotiations can set the stage for manipulative or illegal practices without standardized procedures for renters seeking assistance.

Abigail Savage, a tenant on the east side of Indianapolis, accused her landlord of asking for sex as rent payment after she was furloughed from her restaurant job. 

The landlord denied the allegations, despite text messages provided by Savage that appeared to support her claims.

Across the state, an estimated 258,782 renters affected by the pandemic will need assistance from May through September, according to figures from the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC).

The data suggests extending the eviction moratorium for several weeks brings little relief; more than 186,000 Hoosiers affected by the pandemic will still need rental assistance in June 2021, according to NLIHC estimates.

“The extension of the moratorium has been really necessary,” Bradley told News 8. “But we keep extending it. We don’t yet have a plan in place to know what to do with it afterwards.”


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