(INDIANAPOLIS) – Most Hoosiers have another two months’ grace period from getting evicted.
It’s the third extension of a yearlong moratorium, which now expires October 3. Indianapolis corporation counsel Matt Giffin says it gives renters more time to apply for federally-funded rental assistance. It also means more time to work out the kinks in a new city program to help renters in eviction suits.
The moratorium isn’t an absolute ban on evictions. It applies only if you’ve made a good-faith effort to pay your rent but the pandemic has dented your income.
Unlike the previous versions of the moratorium, this one doesn’t apply nationwide, but only in counties with “substantial” spread of the coronavirus. In Indiana, that covers all but eight rural counties. The CDC definition reaches to the middle of what Indiana classifies as moderate risk.
Giffin cautions the order issued by the Centers for Disease Control could still be thrown out by the Supreme Court. The court narrowly rejected a previous challenge to the moratorium, with Justice Brett Kavanaugh cautioning that Congress needed to authorize it.
And Giffin acknowledges the moratorium doesn’t fix the underlying issues of affordable housing. Mark J. Russell with the Indianapolis Urban League notes studies show Indianapolis, Fort Wayne and South Bend have among the highest eviction rates in the country. He says evictions can not only leave families with no place to live, but can make it difficult for them to get accepted for a new lease elsewhere.
Giffin says the moratorium is a public health measure, not a financial one, to make sure people aren’t scrambling for housing in the middle of a pandemic. Renters still owe unpaid rent when the moratorium is lifted, though the moratorium gives time for them to apply for rental assistance from federal pandemic relief funds. Indy alone has distributed $50 million in rent help so far.
Giffin says an IUPUI study estimated 34,000 Hoosiers were at risk for eviction, while a state study put the figure four times higher.