19,000 tenants on waitlist for Indianapolis rental assistance program ahead of eviction moratorium expiration

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INDIANAPOLIS — A representative of a nonprofit law firm is worried about a flood of eviction filings in Indiana now that the moratorium expired Friday. It comes as 19,000 people sit on a waiting list in Marion County for rental assistance.

On July 13, Marion County launched applications for its Rental Assistance Program. Within days, over 10,000 tenants filled one out. In order to process the high volume of requests received, the city temporarily suspended applications for the program.

Around 19,000 people have now entered their contact information to receive notification when applications are reopened. The City of Indianapolis originally allocated $15 million from CARES Act funding to the program.

“We are fortunate to be able to add philanthropic support from Lilly Endowment which gives us closer to $18 million,” said Jeff Bennett, Deputy Mayor of Community Development.

On Monday, the city allocated an additional $7.5 million to the Rental Assistance Program. Bennett said 3,100 households have received approval so far, which adds up to about five million dollars of assistance.

“Another 7.5 million is meaningful, but not enough to address the full scope of the issue,” said Bennett.

The program will provide up to three months of rent, including back rent to April 1, to residents struggling to pay rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Renters will need to provide income information from February and income/unemployment information since March 1. Landlords must agree to participate in order for renters to receive assistance.

Bennett said it is rare for landlords to not participate.

“We are working on other sources of assistance for tenants so those who may face an eviction filing we want to connect them with legal assistance,” Bennett said.

Indiana Legal Services is a nonprofit law firm that helps low-income residents throughout the state. Brandon Beeler, director of the Housing Law Center at Indiana Legal Services, said they are concerned there is going to be a flood of eviction filings after the moratorium expires on Friday.

“Just because a landlord says you have to get out, if a landlord does not have a court order they don’t have the authority. We get that question a lot,” he said.

Beeler strongly encourages tenants to talk it out with their landlord to see if they can work something out. If you need help, Marion County tenants can call (317) 973-1673 during hotline operation hours to speak to an attorney and receive legal information. The Tenant Legal Assistance Program operates a hotline every Thursday in August from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

During his weekly briefing, Governor Eric Holcomb said Indiana is adding $15 million to the state’s existing $25 million rental assistance program for a total of $40 million. This fund is for tenants in counties other than Marion County.

Over 28,000 applications have been submitted so far for the state’s rental assistance program. Indiana began making payments to landlords last week.

A settlement facilitation program will help tenants and landlords reach agreements in eviction lawsuits by using a neutral, third-party facilitator. If an agreement is reached, the dispute ends along with further court action.

It’s being developed by the Indiana Office of Judicial Administration and will be available statewide at no cost to both tenants and landlords.

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