Health department calls on residents to report Indy’s unlivable homes

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MARION COUNTY, Ind. (August 10, 2015) - Officials at the Marion County Health Department are reaching out to residents living in terrible conditions.

From moldy apartments, to bug infestations and lack of utilities, the Health Department is seen it all. Last year, health officials received 4,022 complaints and issued 2,746 orders to fix the problems. This year, through the end of June, the department has received 1,770 complaints and already issued 1,697 orders.

"It's hard. You see the situations. You see the pictures. You’re out at the properties. And you see what the families are going through,” said Lara Morgan, Team Leader with Housing and Neighborhood Health.

She said an inspector is sent out to check on every complaint made. Then inspectors will report back and the department will issue orders to property managers or owners for repair.

“If it’s an unlivable type of complaint, we address those within that day,” she explained.

If managers and landlords fail to comply, they could face fines up to $2,500 and even court.

Sometimes, the Health Department will receive multiple complaints from the same property. In those cases, it can send a complex to court or even ask a judge to vacate the property. However, those actions will always be the last resort.

“(Tenants) need to work with their landlord and keep an open communication with their landlord if at all possible. If they’ve exhausted that option and it’s just not there, absolutely call. We can send an inspector out," she said. "By bringing us into the situation, we can help to eliminate some of that stress that they’re feeling with trying to talk to them. We always encourage them to keep paying that rent and let us try to help them in that situation. Because sometimes that’s where they have hit a bump is where they’re not paying it and they end up moving out."

Health officials are asking residents to call them for help.

“We are here," said Morgan. "If you’re living in this situation and you don’t know that we can help you… We can.”