Letter: Support tenants with HB 1219

As volunteer coordinators of a church program that supports local families affected by eviction and homelessness, we are asking our state Rep. Jerry Torr to oppose SEA 148 [which would ban Indianapolis from regulating landlord/tenant relations] and to support the bipartisan House Bill 1219, which would establish a housing court and a process to expunge previous evictions.

Our Carmel congregation serves the Interfaith Hospitality Network, a collaboration of faith communities that host recently evicted and displaced families with emergency shelter and food while they get temporary support, child care, and training from Family Promise of Greater Indianapolis. The Interfaith Hospitality Network allows families to stay together, unlike typical homeless shelters. During COVID, network churches and Family Promise of Greater Indianapolis have furnished short-term apartment shelters for recently evicted families, but the latter still must turn away at least 10 homeless families daily for lack of space.

Our guests illustrate how just one job loss, catastrophic illness or escape from domestic violence can begin a spiral of financial ruin, evictions and difficulties finding safe housing. It seems that landlords have all the rights in Indiana. Our guests have been evicted without notice; have been plagued by administrative errors keeping incomplete, incorrect or resolved evictions on their record; or have had no legal recourse to make a landlord address unsafe or unhealthy living conditions besides withholding their rent.

We have seen how hardworking the working poor are. Many Interfaith Hospitality Network guests spend days working multiple jobs—often in the kinds of frontline grocery, warehouse, industry and food service jobs that have kept us going in the pandemic—while in temporary shelter at night. They do their part, despite difficult circumstances.

It’s now time for us to do our part by opposing SEA 148 and giving HB 1219 a chance.

__________

Jeff Keyt, Donna Schwartz and Kathy and Jeff DeaKyne
St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, IHN volunteer coordinators

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