INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — New data shows Americans are struggling to pay for rent during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The National Multifamily Housing Council discovered nearly a third of 13.4 million U.S. renters didn’t pay their rent between April 1 and April 5.
“I don’t think that honestly this should come as a surprise for anybody because we have had massive layoffs and furloughs,” said Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana Executive Director Amy Nelson.
For now, people are okay if they can’t pay their rent in Indiana. Governor Holcomb has an order in place that prevents evictions until May 5.
Many people are concerned about what happens after May 5. Nelson said people are terrified.
“Not only are they living under the fear this pandemic has brought to themselves and their family, now they have to worry about the loss of their housing through nothing at all they did,” Nelson said.
Nelson added that there’s no one currently talking about some rental assistance program on a state or federal level.
“For example, like banning late fees, rent can’t be raised, grace periods or a time period to renegotiate,” Nelson said.
She’s worried that starting May 5, landlords will demand missed payments and rent up front. She thinks this would lead to an eviction crisis for Indiana.
“The last few years, Indiana made national headlines as being one of the highest evicting states in the country,” Nelson explained.
The Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana and Prosperity Indiana are working to get lawmakers’ attention.
17 housing providers and advocate groups sent Senator Todd Young a letter asking him to champion $100 billion in emergency rental assistance in the next COVID-19 response bill.
“There are estimates from the National Low Income Housing Coalition that over 200,000 Hoosiers are going to need short-term emergency rental assistance past the time when the medical pandemic orders are lifted,” stated Prosperity Indiana Policy Director Andrew Bradley.
Bradley and Nelson hope some action is taken, or Indiana will have another crisis on their hands.
“Unless individuals are getting their jobs back, I don’t see how this crisis is going to be alleviated any time soon,” Nelson said.
If you’re in need of help, experts suggests you talk to your landlord to make payment arrangements, or see if there are any rental assistance groups you can turn too. You may need to turn to some legal advice.
Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana has more resources available on their website.