Rent moratorium to expire on Friday in Indiana

By Photos public domain [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re behind on your rent, you’ve been shielded from eviction by an executive order since the start of the pandemic. That order will expire Friday.

Governor Holcomb has added federal aid money to a state rental assistance fund for people having trouble making their payments because the pandemic took a bite out of their paychecks. It’s now a 40-million-dollar fund for everyone except Marion County, which set up its own program.

Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana executive director Amy Nelson says she’s concerned the state is ending the eviction moratorium too soon. She says the assistance programs, funded by the federal pandemic-relief CARES Act, just got started a month ago, and it’s unclear how many of the 41-thousand applications have been fully processed. Marion County suspended new applications for its program after a deluge of requests beyond the 10-thousand it budgeted for.

The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority says nearly half the applications statewide are from Lake, Saint Joseph, Allen, Tippecanoe and Vanderburgh Counties.

The Indiana Supreme Court and Indiana Bar Foundation are working on a program to help landlords and tenants settle out of court, with the potential to keep the lease going. Nelson says she’s waiting to see the deatils of that program. But she predicts legal aid organizations will be overwhelmed by people needing help with eviction cases. She says she’d like to see the state put a single point person in charge overseeing pandemic-related housing issues.

Nelson says predicting how many evictions will be sought when the moratorium is lifted is “uncharted territory.” But she warns even if you don’t end up losing your home, having an eviction case filed against you can mar your credit history and make it harder to get a lease for years afterward.

One of President Trump’s executive orders over the weekend imposes a federal ban on evictions and foreclosures, but that only applies to public housing and buildings with federal mortgages. That’s about a quarter of rentals nationwide.

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