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Tenant advocates expecting ‘waves of evictions’ after moratorium ends Friday

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The expiration of Indiana’s eviction moratorium could plunge thousands of tenants into homelessness if lawmakers do not pass another stimulus bill or expand rental assistance programs, housing advocates said.

During a virtual coronavirus briefing Wednesday, Gov. Eric Holcomb did not announce plans to extend the statewide moratorium set to end Friday.

A federal housing order signed Saturday by President Trump does not halt eviction proceedings. 

“We are expecting to see multiple waves of evictions starting when this eviction moratorium is lifted and extending… even into next year,” said Andrew Bradley, policy director at Prosperity Indiana.

An eviction mediation program proposed by the state is not expected to be operational by time the moratorium ends.

An estimated 248,000 to 313,000 Indiana households could be at risk of eviction in potentially “the most severe housing crisis in [United States] history,” according to a report published Aug. 7 by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

The household estimates translate to approximately 569,000 to 720,000 Hoosiers.

Ashley Brugh, a Broad Ripple resident who works as a bartender in downtown Indianapolis, said heightened pandemic restrictions at her restaurant resulted in fewer customers and tighter finances.

“My restaurant has been really good about keeping us open… but it’s definitely been different. It went from feeling very comfortable to struggling every day and kind of thinking about if I’m going to make it to rent,” she told News 8.

Warren Perkins, a social services worker in Indianapolis, said he feared lifting the eviction moratorium would further stress city agencies already struggling to meet demand for homeless services amid the pandemic.

“I sat up here [on the city’s near north side] and drank coffee for years with a population that comes in and out. Since we’ve had the COVID shutdown, a lot of those people I haven’t seen,” he said. 

People with reliable home Internet are often more likely to access available aid.

Indianapolis was forced to suspend its rental assistance program in July after the website was flooded with more than 10,000 applications in three days.

State and city officials recently approved additional funding for rental assistance programs created to offset the impact of pandemic-related closures.

But the expanded $40 million and $22.5 million programs serve “only a fraction” of Hoosier tenants struggling to pay rent, according to Bradley.

Landlords who “lost patience” after months waiting for rent payments from laid-off tenants could file for eviction immediately after the moratorium ends, he said.

Prosperity Indiana will host a free webinar Thursday from 3:30 to 5 p.m. to prepare Hoosiers for the end of Indiana’s eviction moratorium.

Panelists will include legal services providers and the city’s deputy mayor of community development.