Housing officials, advocates talk next steps week before national eviction moratorium ends

IN Focus: Indiana Politics

INDIANAPOLIS – With the end of the national eviction moratorium just about a week away, state officials are working to reach more people who could be at risk of losing their homes.

The Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority still has $300 million in federal funding available for rental and utility assistance, according to Jacob Sipe, executive director.

The end of the moratorium June 30 may cause an increase in evictions, and there’s no way of knowing how many Hoosiers could be at risk, Sipe said.

With the end of the eviction moratorium approaching, some say they’re worried about those who could be affected.

“We do a lot of work with our families at the Moorhead Community Resource Center,” said James Taylor, director of student services for Warren Township schools. “Over 35 to 40 percent of our inquiries have been about housing.”

Taylor was one of several guests at a forum hosted by Indiana House Democrats Tuesday morning to discuss the potential impacts of the end of the national eviction moratorium.

“Indianapolis has the second-highest most court-ordered evictions” nationwide, said Amy Nelson, executive director of the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana, who also spoke at the meeting.

According to Sipe, since March, the state housing authority has granted 7,000 renters about $10 million in assistance through the emergency program, which serves 87 counties.

“Many of these households are for the first time asking for rental assistance,” Sipe said after Tuesday’s meeting. “And that’s OK, especially during this time.”

This program is bigger than others in the past, Sipe said, offering up to a year of rental assistance.

To try to prevent some of the evictions that may come after June 30, Sipe added, his team is working to reach more renters and landlords.

“Clearly working with landlords to identify renters that are past due and making sure that our landlords are sharing this information with them,” Sipe said.

The goal is to make sure renters are aware of the assistance available and get the help they need to apply, Sipe said.

Meanwhile, school districts like Warren Township are working to track down families ahead of the fall semester.

“We want stability for our kids, so we want to make sure we keep them stable,” Taylor said.

According to Sipe, to qualify for assistance from the Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority, renters must be at or below 80% of their area’s median income and have been adversely affected by the pandemic.

Some localities, such as Indianapolis, have their own housing agency.

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