FHCCI News and Updates
May 21, 2020 – Groups try to ward off ‘tsunami’ of new evictions once moratorium ends: Those who work in housing advocacy say the current health and economic mess haven’t brought out any new issues in housing; the global pandemic and financial collapse are just worsening what was already there. Many in Indianapolis never had that stable of housing to begin with. “It’s not new,” said Leah Humphrey, who’s part of the group Homes for All Indy. “The pandemic is highlighting a lot of it. Black and brown people have always gone through housing discrepancy and discrimination.” Read more here.
May 14, 2020 – Her Landlord Asked To Spend The Night With Her After She Lost Her Job And Couldn’t Afford Rent: When Gail Savage’s landlord messaged asking her if she would “stay all night” with him, she assumed he’d texted the wrong number. “I was like, He probably meant to send that to his girlfriend,” Savage, 29, told BuzzFeed News. A single mom to 2-year-old son Salem, Savage lost her job working as a bartender at a popular Indianapolis cocktail bar and her gigs working as a burlesque performer when the state shutdown occurred on March 16. She’d let her landlord know and they’d been texting about how she was waiting for the federal stimulus check to arrive to pay her April rent, when he suddenly inquired if she could get a ride and “stay all night” with him. Full story here.
May 13, 2020 – Pro Bono Matters: Pandemic forces legal aid groups to think outside the box: Pro bono and legal aid efforts are not immune to the adjustments needed to serve clients in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Court closures and restrictions on in-person gatherings have forced legal services organizations such as Indiana Legal Services Inc. to get creative about how they can continue to engage volunteer attorneys and provide legal services to those in need. ILS is already starting to plan for the kinds of services it thinks will be most in demand once restrictions are lifted. Full story here.
May 4, 2020 – Housing Coalition Presents Policy Recommendations To Protect Renters: A newly formed group will lobby for stronger protection against eviction during the pandemic. The Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition says it doesn’t think the state has done enough to outline how it will protect people who may be at risk of being evicted. Read more here.
May 1, 2020 – New Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition Urges Action to Ensure Housing Stability Response to COVID-19: Rent is due May 1 across Indiana, but hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic won’t be able to pay, leaving them open to eviction and threatening their long-term housing stability. The newly-formed Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition is issuing policy recommendations to avoid a tsunami of evictions and homelessness in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.
April 29, 2020 – Helping Hoosiers facing housing discrimination and eviction during COVID-19: The FHCCI was featured as part of the Badassery Life blog series. Read the blog here.
April 29, 2020 – Leadership in Law Features FHCCI Board Member as “Up and Coming Lawyer”: Chase Haller has a servant’s heart, working hard on behalf of people who sometimes are facing extreme hardship and have nowhere else to turn. Haller works so hard, in fact, that when duty calls, he’s known to roll up his sleeves and help clean homes of low-income clients who need a hand. He was also recently called upon to be a servant leader, filling in for a few months as interim director of one of Indianapolis’ most vital legal services agencies. As he sees things, it’s all just part of the job — and the mission. Read the profile here.
April 27, 2020 – The History of Redlining in a Six-Minute Video: As part of a fair housing education campaign supported by a multi-year settlement agreement that Relman Colfax helped to negotiate with First Merchants Bank, the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana (FHCCI) has released a thought-provoking short video titled History of Redlining—Indianapolis, IN. Read the blog here.
April 23, 2020 – People living in hotels, motels face lack of eviction protections during pandemic: Indiana’s temporary halt on evictions and foreclosures remains in place until at least early May, but the order has not protected people living in transitional housing like extended stay hotels. CBS4 has heard from people who are concerned that they will be kicked out of hotels and motels due to their job losses and inability to pay. Read more here.
April 22, 2020 – Advocacy groups worry for Indiana renters when eviction order is lifted in May: 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. Read the story here.
April 22, 2020 – FHCCI Releases History of Redlining Video: As part of its Fair Housing Month 2020 activities, the FHCCI announces today a new video to educate the public on redlining and its impact still to this day. You may view the video on the FHCCI’s YouTube page or directly here.
April 21, 2020 – FHCCI Celebrates Fair Housing Month with Medical Partnership: Each year, April is celebrated around the country as Fair Housing Month to honor the original passage of the federal Fair Housing Act in April 1968. The federal Fair Housing protects people from discrimination across housing transactions due to their race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, and/or familial status. Despite several attempts to pass the law in the 1960s, the Act was finally signed into law on April 11, 1968 following the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968. This year, the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana (FHCCI) is marking the occasion focusing on the correlation between housing discrimination and health. Read the full release here.
April 20, 2020 – FHCCI Releases 2019 Annual Report: As part of its Fair Housing Month activities, the FHCCI has released its 2019 Annual Report which summarizes the major accomplishments of the FHCCI in its 8th year of operations:
- Served 865 clients recording 259 fair housing allegations.
- Opened 70 new fair housing investigations.
- Filed 4 enforcement actions to address housing discrimination.
- Conducted 60 fair housing trainings for 2,002 persons.
- Participated in 36 community exhibits directly reaching 2,391 persons.
- Distributed over 27,000 fair housing publications.
- Released 4 fair housing education videos.
- Resolved 9 investigations/cases impacting over 12,828 housing units and opening up lending opportunities.
April 14, 2020 – Class Action to Proceed Against Predatory and Discriminatory Rent-to-Own Housing Program: On March 27, 2020, a federal court in Indiana certified a class in a lawsuit challenging reverse redlining and violations of consumer protection laws in a rent-to-own housing program operated by Rainbow Realty Group, its owner James Hotka, and associated entities. Because defendants failed to seek immediate review in the Seventh Circuit by April 10, the case will continue in the trial court as a class action. This is a major step toward obtaining redress for thousands of households harmed by a program that held out the promise of homeownership. Read more here.
April 8, 2020 – One Outcome of an Agreement with First Merchants Bank: Fair Housing Goes on the Road: In an agreement that the Relman Colfax firm negotiated last year between our client, the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana (FHCCI), and First Merchants Bank, the bank agreed to make a donation to support fair lending education and outreach efforts in Indianapolis. This week, some of the efforts supported by those funds rolled out into Indianapolis. Learn more here.
April 6, 2020 – FHCCI Releases Fair Housing Accessibility/Design & Construction Video: As part of its Fair Housing Month 2020 activities, the FHCCI announces today a new video to educate the public on fair housing law design and construction requirements for multi-family properties. You may view the video on the FHCCI’s YouTube page or directly here.
April 1, 2020 – Class Action Certified in Challenge to Predatory and Discriminatory Rent-To-Own Housing Program: On March 27, 2020, a federal court certified a class to address alleged reverse redlining and violations of consumer protection laws by Indianapolis based Rainbow Realty Group, its owner James Hotka, and associated entities. The plaintiffs allege defendants use the promise of homeownership to lure people into toxic “rent-to-own” contracts for dilapidated houses. The class goes back to 2009 and includes thousands of current and former Rainbow customers. The Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit. Download the ruling and full press release here.
March 27, 2020 – Central Indiana housing non-profit gets $425K from U.S. HUD: More than $400,000 was awarded to an Indianapolis non-profit fair housing organization this week. The Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana works to educate the public on fair housing laws so people can recognize and report problems and engages in enforcement to prevent discrimination in housing. Read full story here.
March 26, 2020 – Holcomb vetoes controversial landlord-tenant bill in wake of COVID-19 outbreak: Gov. Eric Holcomb vetoed a controversial bill Wednesday that would limit what local communities can do to regulate landlord-tenant relationships. The bill — Senate Enrolled Act 148 — would have revised how much decision-making power landlords have over their properties and was the subject of intense debate during the 2020 legislative session. Several cities, including Indianapolis, were pursuing measures to expand protections for renters as legislators developed the bill at the urging of groups like the Indiana Apartment Association. Read full story here.
March 25, 2020 – HUD Awards Nearly $40 Million to Fight Housing Discrimination – Grants to support and promote fair housing nationwide: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) today awarded nearly $40 million to fair housing organizations across the nation working to confront violations of the nation’s landmark Fair Housing Act and help end housing discrimination. Read a complete summary of the grants being awarded today. The grants are being awarded through the Department’s Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP) and the Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP) to help people who believe they have been victims of housing discrimination and to educate the public and housing providers on the nation’s fair housing laws. Read full press release here.
March 24, 2020 – ‘The crisis has just gotten even more critical’: Indianapolis residents fear eviction: And while Gov. Eric Holcomb last week temporarily suspended any evictions in Indiana, hundreds of advocates are urging him to move one step further. They want Holcomb to veto SEA 148, a bill recently passed in the legislature that would strip renter protections in Indianapolis, Bloomington and other cities. The impact could be sweeping. IndyStar spoke with a range of service workers who are already experiencing economic hardship: a child care provider who had to close her facility; a custodial worker whose income is stretched to help two adult children; a cafeteria cook with concerns for several friends who are not financially prepared for what’s coming. Read full story here.
March 19, 2020 – Governor Holcomb Issues Executive Order on Temporary Prohibition on Evictions and Foreclosures in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic: “No residential eviction proceedings or foreclosure actions may be initiated during the public health emergency. This does not relieve the individual of obligations to pay rent or mortgage payments.” Read the full order here.
March 18, 2020 – Housing advocates say legislation puts tenants at risk: Although the legislative session has ended, a Statehouse battle is continuing as opponents of a last-minute amendment that they assert will further disadvantage tenants and renters are lobbying the governor to issue a veto. Housing rights groups, religious organizations, a wealth of nonprofits who serve people in need and legal aid providers, along with municipalities across Indiana, are all part of an effort to stop Senate Bill 148, which now contains the controversial amendment. The opposition organized quickly and held a rally at the Statehouse in the closing days of the session to bring attention to their concerns. Read more here.
March 11, 2020 – ‘A major setback for renters’: Indiana lawmakers vote to strip tenants of new protections: A bill that would strip protections from Indianapolis renters passed both chambers of the Indiana General Assembly on Wednesday, handing a major defeat to Mayor Joe Hogsett and advocates who are grappling with how to fight back against predatory landlords and mountains of evictions in Indianapolis. The bill, passed primarily by Republicans who hold a super-majority in the Statehouse, came just a couple weeks after Hogsett, a Democrat, and the Indianapolis City-County Council began providing more power to renters. The bill now heads to the desk of Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb for his consideration. Read more here.
March 5, 2020 – Lawmakers continue fight over landlord-tenant legislation: Indiana lawmakers are continuing to fight over legislation that would prevent municipalities from regulating landlord-tenant relationships. The Indiana House on Monday voted 62-31 to approve Senate Bill 340, which largely addresses condemnation and property owner rights but also was amended to include a controversial provision to preempt local ordinances that deal with landlord-tenant rights. Read more here.
March 3, 2020 – State lawmakers putting up roadblocks for Indianapolis: The 2020 legislative session is nearly finished, but some lawmakers are using their final days in the Indiana Statehouse to disrupt local politics in Indianapolis. An amendment added to a bill concerning imminent domain would nullify parts of a package of proposals passed by the Indianapolis City-County Council that help protect renters. Read more here.
March 2, 2020 – Nearly 300 Organizations and Individuals Urge No” Vote on SB 340: Today, the Indiana House is scheduled to vote on SB 340. A letter with signatures from nearly 300 organizations and individuals from around Indiana has been sent to the Speaker Brian Bosma and members of the Indiana House of Representatives voicing concern and urging a “No” vote on SB 340. This opposition is in light of the surprise last-minute amendment to the bill on February 24 that will have a significant negative impact on renters across the state. Full Press Release Sign On Letter
February 28, 2020 – Indiana lawmakers advancing landlord-friendly legislation have ties to real estate: IndyStar story providing background on SB 340. Read the story here.
February 27, 2020 – Hogsett Signs Tenant’s Rights Ordinance: Housing renters in Indianapolis now have additional legal protection against unscrupulous landlords. But the city may run into problems as the Indiana General Assembly considers an amendment to a bill that prevents any city from instituting ordinances to oversee landlord-tenant relations without approval by the state legislature. Read more here.
February 26, 2020 – Protecting rights of tenants at center of Wednesday signing ceremony in Indy: Mayor Joe Hogsett and City-County Council President Vop Osili will join other community organizations in an ordinance signing ceremony Wednesday afternoon. “If we seriously want to address the root causes of violent crime, we must address issues like housing instability and evictions,” said Council President Vop Osili. Read more here.
February 26, 2020 – FHCCI Urges “No” Vote on SB 340: The Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana (FHCCI) urges a “No” vote on SB 340. On the last House Judiciary Committee hearing of the session, on an unrelated bill, in a short session that heard no tenant friendly bills, SB 340 was amended to dramatically take away the rights of Hoosier tenants in our state and reshapes how Indiana cities can effectively address housing problems within their borders. Read the full press release here.
February 25, 2020 – City leaders approve proposals to protect tenants’ rights: City-County councilors on Monday night approved proposals to protect tenants’ rights, but lawmakers could vote to amend a bill that could void both proposals. The State House Committee voted 8-3 to amend S.B. 340 Monday morning. City Proposal 40 will provide $250,000 to the Office of Public Health and Safety for free legal representation for eviction cases. Proposal 41 will require landlords to provide tenants’ notice of their rights and responsibilities before signing a lease. It also entails a free hotline for renters looking for advice and will punish landlords who retaliate against renters who file a complaint. Landlords can face a minimum $2,500 fine. Read more here.
February 5, 2020 – Tenants with eviction history still facing housing issues: Some renters in Indianapolis are having a hard time keeping a roof over their heads because of their housing history. For some families like the Jordan’s, their housing history caused them to be homeless for about two months, but they were never evicted. Read more here.
January 16, 2020 – Mayor Hogsett Wants to Allocate Thousands of Dollars to Protect Renters’ Rights: Mayor Joe Hogsett on Wednesday unveiled a new plan to help renters across the city. Together with Indiana Legal Services and the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana, the city wants to allocate $250,000 in new funding to protect tenant rights. Read more here. Related stories:
- Proposed Plan to Protect Tenants from ‘Bad Actors’ (Inside Indiana Business)
- Hogsett unveils tenant protection initiative, aims to cut down evictions (Indiana Lawyer)
- Renters would have more power to fight bad landlords under Hogsett proposal (IndyStar)
- Help for Indianapolis renters is coming (IndyStar)
- Mayor proposes plan to help protect renters in Indianapolis (RTV6)
- Hogsett unveils tenant protection initiative, aims to cut down evictions (IBJ)
January 15, 2020 – FHCCI Commends City of Indianapolis on New Housing Initiative: Today, the City of Indianapolis announced a new Tenant and Legal Assistance Initiative. The Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana (FHCCI) gives its full support to the City on this drastically needed housing effort. The FHCCI hears far too often from tenants who are experiencing significant habitability problems, who fear or have experienced retaliation for trying to address those problems, those do not have adequate representation in court, those who struggle to find affordable or accessible housing for their families, or experience the harmful impacts of discrimination. Read the full press release here. Read the city press release here
January 10, 2020 – Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana Releases Its First Data Set On Indiana Complaints: WFYI’s Taylor Bennett spoke with Executive Director Amy Nelson about the new report — called The State of Fair Housing in Indiana — that complies data from the past 18 years. Listen to the audio here.
January 7, 2020 – FHCCI Releases Report on Indiana Fair Housing Complaints: The Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana (FHCCI) opened in January 2012. Since that time, we have not had concrete data regarding fair housing complaint filing in our state. In 2019, the FHCCI sought this data from the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). We publish this, The State of Fair Housing in Indiana Report, to share the government data, key demographics, and our analysis with the general public. Read the press release or download the full report here.