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'We really need help' | Bills to protect Hoosier renters stalled at Statehouse

Advocates and tenants planned to testify on bills that would better protect renters and hold landlords accountable, but neither of those bills reached a hearing.

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana housing advocates are disappointed after recent bills to help Hoosier renters are stalled in the Statehouse.

Housing advocates and tenants planned to testify on two bills that would better protect Hoosier renters and hold landlords accountable, but neither of those bills reached a public hearing. 

The bills include Senate Bill 202 and House Bill 1148. Both bills would require landlords to fix an essential service, like water or heat, within 24 hours of a tenant reporting a problem. It also would call for the court to hold rent in a separate account, only releasing the money once the landlord corrects the issue. 

“There is no longer an active, live piece of legislation to address the habitability issues,” said Andrew Bradley, policy director at Prosperity Indiana. 

On Thursday, the Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition called on the Indiana General Assembly to address the state’s housing crisis.  

“There is too much time left to let the issue die,” Bradley said.  

Since the pandemic, more than 150,000 households have called Indiana’s 211 for housing help, which makes up the majority of calls. 

During that time, rent increased 26%, according to a recent NPR study. Also, more than 156,000 evictions were filed, according to the Eviction Lab.  

“There are gaps in our law that need to be addressed,” said Amy Nelson of the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana.  

Indianapolis renter Sian Anderson said her list of issues goes on and on.  

“There were roaches, mold, mice and rats,” she said. “Pipes burst and the water heater broke.” 

She said her landlord repeatedly ignored her requests to get the problems fixed.  

“It makes me angry. We really need help,” Anderson said. 

Advocates say the General Assembly needs to act this session and provide more protections before the issues get worse.  

"This is a long game we are playing. We realize that, but the problem is while we are playing this long game, 100 people are being evicted today,” said Rabbi Dr. Aaron Spiegel, the executive director of the Greater Indianapolis Multifaith Alliance.  

On Wednesday, Senate Bill 202 was sent to a summer study committee and will not be heard in this session.  

House Bill 1148 was referred to the Judiciary Committee, but as of Thursday, has not been put on the schedule. 

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