INDIANAPOLIS – New research shows Indiana had one of the highest eviction rates nationwide both before and during the pandemic.

The data was collected by the Eviction Research Network, which is based at the University of California at Berkeley. Despite the roughly year-long national eviction moratorium, evictions in Indiana didn’t drop as much as they did in other states, the research shows.

“I feel like each and every one of us should be given a chance to have housing that we can afford,” said Julie Steed of Jeffersonville.

Steed said she was out of work for six months last year as she battled COVID-19 and cancer. She fell behind on rent and qualified for emergency rental assistance from the state.

But as she waited for the funds to arrive, she was evicted in November, she said.

“It was just one thing after another and now having an eviction on my record, so I can’t move,” said Steed, who was able to get back into her home.

Steed isn’t alone. According to the Eviction Research Network’s data, Indiana’s eviction rate was slightly above the historic average before the pandemic. It dropped significantly during the first few months of the pandemic but then spiked by the summer of 2020.

Rayanna Binder of the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority acknowledged Indiana’s higher eviction rates.

“I don’t think there’s any one factor that explains that,” Binder said. “This is a condition that predates the pandemic. And this has been an ongoing issue that we’ve had in the state of Indiana.”

Binder said the state has been focused on working to expand legal and advising services available to tenants.

“I think to reduce evictions and to keep folks in their homes, we will need both landlords and tenants that are using the available tools, whether that is the eviction deferral program, or the low-cost mediation option that is currently available through the courts,” said Binder, who serves as policy director for Indiana’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program.

The issue is also on state lawmakers’ radar. Earlier this year. they created a bipartisan housing task force to study the topic and create a report with recommendations.

“I’m cautiously optimistic because the committee exists, so that tells me that there’s some interest in addressing these issues,” said State Sen. Fady Qaddoura (D-Indianapolis), one of the group’s members.

The housing task force has one more meeting scheduled later this month. The group will issue its report before the new legislative session starts in January.