>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Welcome to Noon Edition on WFIU. I'm your host Bob Zaltsberg along with WFIU's news bureau chief Sara Wittmeyer. Today we're talking with our guests about the new CDC eviction moratorium and what it means for Hoosier renters. The new moratorium halts eviction in counties with substantial or high levels of community transmission of COVID-19. And currently all 92 counties in Indiana meet that requirement according to CDC data reported daily. You can follow us on the show on Twitter at Noon Edition. You can send us questions there. You can also send us questions to email@example.com. And you will be sending the questions to us to ask to four of our guests. Our guests today are Brandon Beeler, housing law - Housing Law Center director Indiana Legal Services, the Reverend Forrest Gilmore executive director of the Shalom Community Center here in Bloomington, Amy Nelson the executive director of the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana and Fran Quigley clinical professor and director of Health and Human Rights Clinic for the Indiana University McKinney School of Law. Thank you all for being here with us today. Really appreciate having such great guests with us. And I just want to start off the program by talking about what COVID has meant. And I'm going to address this first to Brandon, what COVID-19 has meant to renters in Indiana and why this moratorium is important.
>>BRANDON BEELER: Hi Bob. Thanks for the opportunity to be here this afternoon. I appreciate it. Certainly, yeah. Renters have been hit really hard with COVID-19 and especially low-income Hoosier renters who are the primary client base that we serve - have really suffered the greatest financial hardships with job loss and hourly wages lost throughout the past you know year and a half going on two years now. You know as far as the new moratorium or the extension for the moratorium you know this has really been a - this is critical for Hoosier renters. First and foremost which the CDC has tried to narrowly direct this towards preventing the spread of COVID-19 and as we've seen and heard and hear reports every day of growing cases that the Delta variant and being spread throughout the state you know having people - having - renters having the ability to stay housed and be able to shelter in place especially if they are contracting COVID and help prevent the spread you know that was really what the Supreme Court in their order at the end of June sort of discussed was - you know the question is whether the CDC extended its authority. You know the CDC when they came out with this moratorium extension really tried to narrow that to focus on these counties and focus in on a county by county basis to see where the spread is. I say also one of - really the critical reason why this has been so beneficial and something that tenants frankly need is because you know with these emergency rental assistance programs - which I'm sure we will talk about this hour - it's an unprecedented program from the federal level. And it is just taking time to get those much needed funds to renters as well as landlords. So hopefully this - during this time we're really hoping that rental assistance can get into the hands of renters and landlords and prevent a lot of evictions where again there are federal dollars directed towards that.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Amy if we could go to you next for some opening comments about this.
>>AMY NELSON: Sure. So Brandon laid out just so succinctly the problem you know to date. But one thing that the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana has concerns about is the long-term impact. What does it mean by having an eviction for instance on your so-called tenant or even in some situations credit record? How that's going to follow people around for so many years to come as they seek new opportunities or even try to change into more affordable or more safe housing situations, and this is because of how tenant screening companies use data that they scrape from so many different types of court records that may not be an accurate reflection of what occurred. For instance here in Indianapolis, we have seen a number of landlords refuse to participate in the rental assistance programs. Consequently then those individuals who may have qualified then for those programs but had a landlord who refused to participate would probably be served an eviction. And that shouldn't be the situation that then impacts their ability to move or find new housing in the future. And this is just one of the many concerns that the Fair Housing Center has.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: All right. I'm going to ask Fran Quigley next to talk a little bit about it. You know from your perspective what are some of the key elements to what's happening here with the evictions?
>>FRAN QUIGLEY: Well I just would like to echo what Brandon and Amy have already said. That this is a crisis and thank goodness we do have this moratorium. And thank goodness the moratorium is still in place. The last couple of weeks I've had the privilege of being alongside Brandon and his colleagues in Marion County eviction courts. And you see folks - we talked to someone the other day. She brought in her 11-day-old baby and had to be her second day in a row in eviction court, other folks who are enduring very serious illnesses including COVID with themselves and their families, other folks have been laid off or had their hours reduced. And it's simply no exaggeration to say that is repeated across this state by hundreds of thousands of people and they would be on the streets but for the eviction moratorium. And all of them are still struggling to get access to the rental assistance which I know we'll talk about. But as Brandon said thank goodness that appears to be coming down the pike. We hope it will be and get folks housed in the short term. And then we can address this as Amy said these long-term issues that are still going to be there even if we can keep these folks in their homes for the next month or two.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: All right. Thank you. And our next voice is the Reverend Forrest Gilmore who's been on our program many times before. Forrest, how has this affected the population of people who you work with on a regular basis?
>>FORREST GILMORE: Yeah. Thanks Bob for having me and giving me a chance to speak on this really important topic. I think one of the things that we've already seen is the challenge of the last year where we saw street homelessness reach numbers we've never seen before in our community in the winter. And that's just an enormous challenge just to have gone through that and saw how COVID affected that. But I also think that we actually learned quite a bit from the 2008 recession about how it impacted homelessness. And what we know is that homelessness takes - that there's a lag between the actual recession and when the impact starts to happen. So we're likely to see a peak of homelessness or the next several years maybe even peaking in 2023. And that's I think particularly frightening is that even though the economy is starting to come out of this situation, evictions and homelessness are likely to continue to grow over the next several years. And they're anticipating as much as a almost a - Economic Roundtable is predicting as much as a 49% increase in chronic homelessness over the next several years which I find very frightening.
>>SARA WITTMEYER: Amy, perhaps you can start by just talking about the rental assistance program. I'm curious you know if we can talk about how much money Indiana got for that and how much has already been sent to families and how much more is still left to hand out.
>>AMY NELSON: Well the rental assistance programs have been provided to date through what we call CARES Act 1 and CARES Act 2 federal appropriations. And these are appropriations are specifically identified how much money the state or in the situation of Indianapolis would receive for rental assistance funds. In the first CARES Act, Indianapolis was set aside separately from the state of Indiana. So there was two programs then running here in the state of Indiana. On CARES Act 2, the state did allow other cities to have their own programs that they have been running. So it really depends upon you know where you live, your particular community, that sort of program. What we have seen however is that at the state level is that there is a significant amount of unobligated rental assistance funds. The state had received about $372 million in rental assistance funds through that CARES Act 2 funding. And at least as of the end of - the middle of June had only been able to obligate about 10 million of that. I know that the state is working to try to remedy the situation. But we do want to make sure that people are aware and apply for the rental assistance programs because there are funds available. And individuals should take that opportunity to apply to see if they qualify, they can get funds. Because under the state's program people could get up to 12 months of rental assistance help and possibly utility assistance help as well. Depending upon the city that they live in, they may have other types of rental assistance programs as well.
>>SARA WITTMEYER: But why is the process going so slow? I was even reading about in some other states where the money has sort of been appropriated perhaps in ways that it wasn't intended.
>>AMY NELSON: Well I think that would be a question you know for the state as to why these funds - we are you know we're an advocate. We've been working to try to get the word out about these funds to make sure that people are aware, helping individuals in getting to the right programs and how they can apply and the process you know for doing such. I think that we have seen you know nationally that some of these programs that have been set up have had kind of some onerous barriers to completion. You know very often individuals may require internet or the assistance of somebody if they don't have internet. They may not be aware of places that they can go that could assist them in completing their applications. They may not be aware of the programs. Outreach, social media, things like that may not have reached them. And then some of the requirements of the programs may be more overwhelming for folks who may not have easy access to things like copies of their lease or items such as that or being able to sign the declarations form such as under the CDC eviction moratorium, which I'm sure that we're going to talk about as well.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: We did a show on this very early in the pandemic and we did have some representatives from apartment associations on here and people representing landlords. And we don't today, but I guess I want to ask a follow-up to what Amy was just saying about the idea for this rental assistance fund. A lot of that would wind up in the pockets of people who are renting properties to others, right? So it seems like it would be in the best interest of government to put together the people who are renters and the people who are renting them properties to try to continue to help the whole system work properly. I don't know who I'm addressing that to. Maybe Brandon can you say am I reading that correctly or am I missing something?
>>BRANDON BEELER: No. I think that's exactly accurate again. That's - it's money to you know repay the rent for however long. And again each program is a little bit different. I mean Amy was correct in explaining some of the challenges that tenants and frankly landlords face in trying to keep track. Because there are - you know there's the statewide program and then there are I think six other programs throughout the state. And knowing first of all where you qualify, we see tenants every single day who come to our office that you know again as much as we're maybe in the news knowing these are out there and following it, tenants who frankly do not know with - and to what Fran had referenced earlier, we've been the past two weeks in small claims courts and eviction courts here in Marion County. And there's really a lot of confusion from the landlord side as well. And we've been able - you know it's been very small, certainly a drop in the bucket statewide for sure but trying to just get everyone on par and on page. Because again we're an organization that's tracking this a little bit more closely. There's been just a lot of confusion about whether you know some landlords believe for instance that there's some strings attached to the funds, that they may be forced to you know house a tenant who's maybe causing problems on the property or things like that. So trying to just debunk some of that has been some of the really rather work we've done in bringing the parties together and applying. Some of the lag time, again this is an unprecedented program from the federal level. And so again the time from getting the money from the federal level to the state and to these local programs is certainly part of it. The other part too is getting both parties when they're not in court or when they're not together, there has to be some sort of verification from each side which can also cause a lag. I can just speak from you know anecdotally from my experience you know I have a number of tenant clients that have applied for different programs back in May and you know they're still waiting for assistance. So they have pending eviction cases that we - you know I anticipate being resolved through rental assistance. But you know it's been May since their applications and here we are you know the 13 of August still waiting for them to get paid. In fortunately these experiences because maybe because of attorneys involved in this we've been able to kind of quell the landlord and trying to work together to receive these funds.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: All right. We're talking about the CDC eviction moratorium and what it means for Hoosiers today. We have four guests. That was Brandon Beeler Housing Law Center director of the Indiana Legal Services. We're also joined by the Reverend Forrest Gilmore with Beacon and the Shalom Community Center, Amy Nelson executive director of Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana, and Fran Quigley clinical professor and director of Health and Human Rights Clinic Indiana University McKinney School of Law. You can join us on the program in a couple of ways. You can tweet us at Noon Edition. So we're on Twitter. And you can email us firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm really interested in following up with Brandon and Fran Quigley about - and others if you have the firsthand experience - about what it's like in these eviction courts, because there were a couple of days there where the eviction courts were quite busy before the moratorium was extended. Can you sort of give us a sense of what it was like you know in the courtroom? What kinds of people were going in there? What were the arguments like? What were the outcomes like?
>>BRANDON BEELER: Sure. Well I just want to also point out that actually eviction courts have been busy even before the two days we had where there was no moratorium at least in the past - last week. You know it's really sort of mixed throughout the state. You know the Supreme Court has put guidance up for courts. There's been no court orders that direct courts on how to approach them you know for in a uniform manner. But some courts for instance will provide sort of a blanket Notice of Rights to tenants and landlords as they're sitting there before their hearings, letting people know about the CDC moratorium and allowing the tenants to make that declaration that they qualify. Other courts, and frankly even within the same county, other courts are not doing that. And I witnessed tenants who are being evicted for nonpayment of rent simply because they didn't know that this - that the CDC moratorium protected them. So we're really just seeing a mixture of it. But as far as being on the ground and Fran can certainly speak to this as well, probably Amy and maybe Reverend Gilmore as well, you know what we see in court is - what we've seen at least the past couple of weeks is we've seen two sides of the part - of both parties being frustrated. They don't - there's a lot of confusion and misunderstanding. And you know a lot of folks just you know trying to you know just kind of avoid it thinking maybe it's just going to oh go away. But when we get them together and frankly when they're - the landlord and tenant are sitting there we usually have been able to get to an agreement of some point about helping them apply together. Letting - you know we have some access that we can inform the Indiana rent folks that that they're applying and try to get some sort of notice to both of them that the rental assistance application is going forward. And again frankly letting people know that these exist.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Fran?
>>FRAN QUIGLEY: Sure. I would just add exactly what Brandon said. That this is a program - the emergency rental assistance which really benefits the landlords arguably even more than the tenants because that way they're going to get paid in a way that they wouldn't have gotten paid probably with these big arrearages that a lot of folks have. But if I could be blunt about it I think in terms of getting the rental assistance dollars out the door as Brandon said there's a lot of frustration in the - with the courts with advocates with tenants with landlords. I mean I don't think that our elected officials in Indiana at the state or local levels are doing anywhere near a good enough job. I know that there's not been an infrastructure to roll out these kind of dollars. And the folks who are working on it are working as hard as they can. But in talking about this with a student recently the analogy is if we had widespread fires across the state of Indiana and they were displacing people from their homes if they were endangering health and lives, even though we don't have an infrastructure in place all hands would be on deck. We'd mobilize the resources to make sure that you know those fires got put out and we were able to take care of these families. Well that kind of fire is spreading across Indiana. We've got 100,000 plus people who are at risk of losing their homes and being put into the streets and having their health - physical and mental health be at risk as a result. And I don't think we're doing a good enough job to address it as an emergency and to make sure these dollars get to the families so they could stay in the homes, get to the landlords so that they can you know get the income that they need and keep these folks in their homes. We - I think we can and should demand much better from officials at the state level and at our city levels as well.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Let me just say we totally appreciate blunt on this show. So thank you very much for that.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: And Forrest Gilmore...
>>FRAN QUIGLEY: I can always bring that.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: (Laughter) Forrest has been known to be a little blunt on our show too.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: So I do want to follow up with Forrest and ask about you know that same thing about the public response to this. Why aren't we seeing the kind of urgency that - you know I know that you have urgency on your work every day trying to make sure that people have the necessities and can you know live their best life. You've talked before about some things that happen with local government or - and I'm sure you have your frustrations with state government. You know what - when can we expect that we can maybe get government on the side of - well on the - on - can we improve the services of government? And how soon and what's it going to take?
>>FORREST GILMORE: Oh, gosh. I don't know (laughter). I mean that's a major question. And...
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: It is. I'm sorry for that.
>>FORREST GILMORE: Oh...
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: That was not a good question.
>>FORREST GILMORE: It's fine to ask me that. That's - blunt is - that's a - I don't know I think it's a good blunt response right? (Laughter). But I think one of the biggest things we're seeing on the state funding and we've seen it from the very beginning is that it's a very confusing process that feels very hard to access. Not so much at the first entry door to it but beyond that, that people are having long delays and responses, that people are getting confused about what they're eligible and what they're not eligible for. And so it takes a long time for people to actually get that system set up. Just as an example we had - we were given some rental assistance funding to work with the state on through a - but they controlled - the state controlled the portal for that. And so we just had to wait until people were referred to us. And we often had long, long waits between those times when people applied and we actually did get referrals if we saw those referrals at all. And again I do sympathize with our state government and the people who are on the ground doing it. I know many of them care about this very much and are working very hard and are shocked in the middle of this you know in some ways unprecedented event and trying to deal with that. And yet those are some of the challenges I'm seeing out there every day. And I'll add too that you know rental assistance is super important for preventing evictions and more - and also preventing people from entering the shelter system which is really, really important. There's lots of data about how that can be impactful and affect people. But one of the things we're seeing because this pandemic has been so long you know we're looking at 18 months now since I think March when it started to really have its impact here was - is that people's leases are starting to expire. And so - or have expired and then landlords are just choosing not to extend those leases. And so we're seeing people not so much being evicted but we're seeing people who just are not having their leases renewed. And so they're losing their homes that way.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Now Forrest we've also talked about encampments here in Monroe County. And the CDC did not extend any protections for encampments or then-housed people on city property or elsewhere. What are the dangers of evicting large encampments that happen to be on public property during the pandemic?
>>FORREST GILMORE: Yeah. I think the biggest thing that - I mean there's always a danger for an - evicting an encampment. Probably the biggest thing that it does is it disperses people in a way that we can't you know access them or support them or find them or connect to them. It often leads to lots of lost things that they you know have been using for their survival. And so that's a big challenge. But it also can - and some claim it could even contribute to community spread. I think that was the CDC's argument is that by moving people around and having them shift it actually can spread COVID around the community.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: OK. Sara? Well I have another question that I want to ask. It's from Ron Rankin. It came over Twitter. What can folks who are not at risk of eviction do to help at-risk renters in Bloomington if anything? Can they donate? Can they volunteer? Maybe Forrest you're the best to answer that. But we're not talking just about Bloomington. Maybe there are some answers from the rest of you.
>>FORREST GILMORE: Yeah. I think that's a good question and a hard one to answer. I mean we are - thanks to some funding from a number of sources, Jack Hopkins, Sophia Travis as well as the CDBG funding doing some local rental assistance to help prevent you know evictions to help support people financially. And we'd absolutely welcome donations targeted specifically at rental assistance. So that's one way that folks could help at least locally supporting people here in our city.
>>BRANDON BEELER: I agree. Overall and not just in Monroe County or state wide, we have seen helping - a lot of churches frankly and other faith groups and places of worship have done some private rental assistance as obviously they can through donations kind of take away some of that red tape. But one push that our office has really been trying to encourage every county in the state is engaging every bar association. Most bar associations even prior to COVID have you know a monthly or sometimes a weekly talk to a lawyer line or things like that. So we're really encouraging attorneys to engage in that. There's a free statewide training available on the Indiana State Bar Association's website that any attorney or even non-attorney can access and get a little bit training on some of the basics of landlord tenant law. As well as there's parts about rental assistance that kind of go more in-depth about how to apply and who do - who you apply to and what you need. I've seen - able to say in the past couple of weeks we've expanded that to also including some of these more - the services again directed towards rental assistance. I've been trying to get that. So I would say look at your local bar associations. I know that the state and the Supreme Court is really trying to engage them as well. So if you are a lawyer or even a volunteer, there may be an opportunity to go to a court or to assist tenants in some way under these kind of programs.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Brandon quickly...
>>SARA WITTMEYER: Fran, I...
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Yeah.
>>SARA WITTMEYER: ...I know...
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Go ahead Sara.
>>SARA WITTMEYER: Well I was just going to say Fran I know you've been tracking a lot of these numbers. I'm curious if the data shows have things gotten any better you know over the summer as people have been able to maybe get back to work, were they able to you know catch up on their rent at all? Or how many people could still potentially be evicted if the moratorium ends?
>>FRAN QUIGLEY: The numbers that we have seen, it's all - this is you know people struggle like this in a pretty hidden way. So the numbers are never very definitive. And there's so many factors that could mean someone staying in and finding another place to stay even if they have to move from where they are. But the numbers you hear is as many as 100,000 people across the state. And that's frightening, right? That would be a disaster. And so - and the question that Bob had asked before about advocacy, I want to kind of if I could pass it over to Amy because I've seen Amy advocate directly to lawmakers. And I just want to say that we do have this amazing opportunity right now with tens of millions of dollars in rental assistance that is out there available but is not yet getting to where it needs to go in terms of folks being able to stay in their homes and landlords getting paid the rent that they're owed. So if I could I'd like to pass over to Amy to talk about what folks can do in terms of you know reaching out to their lawmakers who could put pressure on the state and local agencies to do this better and faster.
>>AMY NELSON: Thanks for the handoff, Fran. Yeah. This is a really pressing time in which folks can take action in other ways. And that is through contacting their state legislators, their city county council members, township offices, items such as that. But the Indiana General Assembly has for several years now passed a series of laws that have really eroded the tenant rights aspect under landlord tenant law. We've seen this through them passing laws that have greatly impacted the ability of cities to conduct effective rental inspection programs. We've seen them pass laws that have taken away the rights of cities to be able to mandate affordable housing development. And that was in retaliation to the city of Bloomington who was looking at that. We've seen them try to take away some fair housing based protections which are allowed you know in other states. And then we still have of course this legislative session in which the Republican-run General Assembly overrode their own Republican governor's veto from last year of SCA 148 which preempted all local housing code. And so what we have right now is a landlord tenant law here in Indiana and many other consumer based protections but in particular landlord tenant law that overwhelmingly favors landlords. In fact NPR a couple of years ago identified Indiana as the state most friendliest to landlords. So we need people contacting their Indiana state senators and representative in order to demand housing and change, that there be a comprehensive review of Indiana's landlord tenant and other housing laws to make needed changes, because these laws have always been passed in a rushed way or it's never been fully evaluated as to what the impact is going to be on communities or on renters or other housing consumers. And we need to demand that they take action and work to provide more renter-based protections. There's so many protections that are provided in all of our neighboring states that are not given to renters here in Indiana.
>>FRAN QUIGLEY: What are some examples of those - some examples of renter-based protections that would be - that should be considered at least moderate when it comes to politics?
>>AMY NELSON: One that the states around us all have is the ability for tenants to withhold rent when there are significant health and safety type repair needs. Here in Indiana if the furnace isn't being fixed in the middle of winter, a tenant has no rights to withhold rent in order to try to get the landlord to move and to get those repairs made. They have to keep paying rent. States around us - and it's in different forms. Some have where a - it can be put into some sort of savings deposit or security type account. Others have court-run accounts that do this. Here in Indiana we have nothing like that. We also need to look at eviction sealing and eviction expungement as well as right of counsel laws here in Indiana. Here we are seeing some states start to move in these areas because of the eviction pandemic. And this is where, as I mentioned at the beginning of the program, we're going to have so many renters with evictions on their records that are going to follow them around. And those evictions may not have been justified. They may have been retaliatory. They may have been discriminatory. They may have been in response to repairs being made. It may have been a way to force somebody out because they wanted to increase the rent and get somebody else in. And those shouldn't follow them around. And states are starting - some states and communities are starting to put in place eviction sealing and expect eviction expungement in certain situations. And then every tenant going to eviction court needs to have an attorney there. Statistics just overwhelmingly show that housing providers, landlords going to court will be represented 90% of the time and tenants just are not represented at that level. Indiana Legal Services, some of these other programs are trying to do some great work, but they need more funding in order to be able to effectively help people that are in need. City of Indianapolis is starting to put attorneys in courts. But we need this to be statewide.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: I guess I want to follow up with Fran Quigley on that - on putting attorneys into these eviction courts and elsewhere. Could you talk a little bit about the health and human rights clinic that you run? And what opportunities are there for law students at the McKinney school to get involved in issues such as this?
>>FRAN QUIGLEY: Yeah. Thank you. Our Health and Human Rights Clinic at IU McKinney Law School is a clinic where law students will essentially represent their first-ever clients and get the experience that they need in direct client relationship and advocacy, et cetera. So we have been privilege for many years now to partner with Brandon and his colleagues at Indiana Legal Services where, as Amy said, Indiana Legal Services just provides so much help for so many people all across the state of Indiana and is responding so ambitiously to this housing crisis that we're in now. So our students will do that in terms of direct representation of clients referred to us from ILS. We will be in the Marin County eviction court side by side with Brandon and his colleagues where the students get that terrific experience. But we also have the ability and students are certainly eager to embrace some of these long-term big picture policy fixes that Amy's identified, that we are a state that needs to do much better in terms of protecting the rights of tenants and that our courts can do a lot, that courts can even right now can press pause on these evictions. Sometimes what people need is the time to get their finances together, the time to get this rental assistance money, the time to find another safe and secure place for themselves and their families to live. And the courts have the ability to slow the process down so that tenants get the chance to do that. So we've had the chance to start helping advocate for that, and it is incredibly informed by the experience being side-by-side with Brandon and his colleagues right in court with the folks who are really struggling with facing the idea of being homeless next week if the eviction goes through.
>>SARA WITTMEYER: And can you explain how the current moratorium is different than the other ones?
>>FRAN QUIGLEY: Well, if I can't, I'm going to maybe - this is my theme of being both blunt and passing things off. But Brandon is the expert that I turn to on the difference between the moratoriums. I will say that, thankfully, the difference isn't so significant that - for folks that we're seeing across Indiana that, as you said I think in your introduction, this is applying to everyone here in the short term. Hopefully what it means in the reality of the folks that we're talking with is it does keep them in their homes for a few more weeks.
>>SARA WITTMEYER: Yeah. Brandon, do you want to explain it a little more? I'm just specifically curious about how it's then based on, you know, the positivity rates and things and how that could affect people in their eligibility.
>>BRANDON BEELER: Absolutely, Sara. So, you know, take a step back and going back to when the eviction moratorium was challenged at the Supreme Court - at the United States Supreme Court, and they issued a ruling at the end of June, right when they extended the the moratorium through July 31. And Justice Kavanaugh in a concurring opinion and a very short one seemed to suggest that potentially the Centers for Disease Control extended - would be beyond their authority in this but they were going to leave it intact because of the disruption and what it would cause to take it off so quickly for tenants who are relying on this again as we've mentioned on the show, talked about waiting for these critical resources or rental assistance and others to get to the tenants and the landlords. So what the new order dies or the extension or however we're looking at this, the CDC tried to really narrowly address that concern. And that is, I believe, why we're at this county by county kind of analysis. Now, I certainly cannot explain the math or the science. I've looked at the footnote nine of how they are allocated - how they're determining when your county is at that level. But the CDC is doing that algorithm on their website. You can go on to the CDC site to see if your county is covered. So I think that that's the purpose, again, to show that this order is actually directed toward preventing the spread of COVID-19, again, because we're seeing these rates go up and, you know, while they're going up, again, that's when this first came into effect last September was for that. So that's, I believe, why. And again, I know it's very confusing if you read the order to figure out if your county is - it's a lot of data you have to pull on your own. But the CDC is trying to really do a good job putting that together. And that's why it's really - to try to resist those legal challenges to the CDC whether they have exceeded their authority in issuing it.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Right. We've got a comment sent in. It's sort of a comment and a question that - it says, how do we get information to elderly about eviction protections? When people don't meet quality of care in a nursing home or assisted living, they are in danger of becoming homeless. Not sure which one of you might want to take that, but - Amy, yeah?
>>AMY NELSON: A good organization is through AARP. Here in the state of Indiana, they have been - They are part of the Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition, which is a group of organizations across the state of Indiana that are trying to get more policy changes within the Indiana General Assembly. And AARP is an active member, has been also trying to get information out on the rental assistance programs. That may be a venue that could be used to try to reach individuals who are elderly.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Forrest, what about this? Have you seen this as a problem?
>>FORREST GILMORE: We've - yeah. I mean, we've - one of the things I think that shocked us this year in particular is we've just noticed some uptick in in the age of people experiencing homelessness this last year. In particular, we found a couple of camps actually that have had some people with - who are older or had in some cases severe disability and disabilities in a wheelchair, sleeping outside in camp. So we are absolutely worried about that kind of scenario. And just noticing some increasing in older folks becoming homeless, and that's obviously a major worry.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Wanted to dig deeper with you about the information you talked about earlier about the - by 2023, the numbers are just going to be increasingly going up. What's that based on? And what can we do about it?
>>FORREST GILMORE: Yeah. One of the things that we saw is we saw that occur in - after the 2008 recession. But that homelessness continued to increase several years after the recession. One of the things that we saw - and actually it peaked three years after the recession in 2011 is when homelessness crested. And so we are imagining something similar like that to happen now. One of the things too we saw in the 2008 recession in a study of - in Los Angeles is that 10% of people who lost their jobs became homeless following that - an unemployment situation. And so those are just some of the things that we saw just from a recession in 2008. And this recession, it was worse and more significant. And so projections are that we'll see, you know, the numbers as much as doubling from what we saw in 2008 and through 2011 around that recession
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Yes, so I think I want to ask you again but also all of our panelists. I mean, if we can see that is a likely outcome of this, we could see two years down the road, what can - you know, what can we be doing about it? And maybe Amy, you know, she talked about some things we could lobby the legislature or the legislature could be lobbied about. I mean, if we know or we suspect that's going to be the outcome in two years, what can we do in the next two years that maybe mitigates that?
>>FORREST GILMORE: Oh, sorry. Well, I would just follow up again. I mean, some of this is not super - it's is not rocket science as much as it's just we need to get the resources out there and available to people and to remember that the resources are going to be needed for the next two and three years at least and not to just suddenly be like OK pandemic's over, the economy's doing well, we can stop this assistance. We need to keep, you know, press on the gas for several years and remember that this is going to continue and grow even though for a lot of us we may feel like we've gotten out of it already.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Fran.
>>FRAN QUIGLEY: Yes, I just would like to echo what Reverend Gilmore said this - and folks like Brandon and Amy have been working on this for years. The eviction crisis did not start with the pandemic, and it's not going to end with the pandemic. We have - you know, when you look at the folks who are being evicted, sometimes they are seniors on unlimited income. Sometimes they're folks who are wearing their uniform for the food service job they have or the home health care job that they have. They just simply don't make enough money to afford housing in the state of Indiana. And the data collected by folks at Prosperity Indiana and a National Low Income Housing Center and others have proved this again and again we just have nowhere near enough affordable housing across the state. And that's true in the cities and in the rural communities as well. And when folks are eligible for assistance voucher that could help them pay their rent, only one out of every four families that are eligible can get it. So we have an affordable housing crisis that far predated the pandemic. It's going to be there afterward. We've got people who are seniors, people who are working hard, people with families. And they just simply - you look at what their income is and what the rent is because sometimes low-quality housing oftentimes is not cheap housing and people just aren't able to make the ends meet. And even once we get through this crisis and that even if the rental assistance gets distributed the way it should, that's not going to change what the situation was before the pandemic. And it's going to be afterward where we just have many hundreds of thousands of people in this state who cannot afford to be safely and securely housed. So we need to have more, much more rental long-term stable assistance for these folks and much more public and subsidized housing for them.
>>SARA WITTMEYER: I know I've seen this asked in other places before, but I'm curious what you all think in terms of, is the moratorium just putting off the inevitable then in terms of folks who are going to end up getting evicted?
>>BRANDON BEELER: I don't believe so. I think that, again, as we - probably talking about housing - but, you know, the timing it's taking to get rental assistance to the tenants and landlords to cover these arrearages, again, up to 12 months for some programs at this point and then in fact just to kind of - I don't know we've said this yet. But for many of the state programs, maybe all - I don't have up to date information is right now - but there is still another round of funding coming through for these programs through the - which came through the American Rescue Plan Act that was passed in March. So those funds in themselves have not reached most of our state programs. So there is funding out there that should hopefully - and at that point, I should say that the Treasury has allowed that to be up to 15 months of rent so that will exceed the 12 months and then adding on other sources whether private sources of assistance if folks are over 15 months could be really beneficial. Because I think that, you know, we are seeing obviously a lot of these, not these, least on renewal issues as well because landlords are like, well, you haven't paid. We don't know if you can pay. And rental assistance is taking forever to verify whether we're going to get the funds. I think that would - you know, again, I think it really is, time is critical. And I know just from my conversations and with some folks in this group and also with some state leaders, you know, they're aware that the timing issue. And I know everyone's really trying to work on that. And so hopefully it shouldn't be inevitable. It should be a point where, again, there's funds to cover up to and over a year worth of rent. And as I - recently experiencing with a lot of clients really starting in mid-July, jobs are coming back. Folks are starting to get jobs again who have been unemployed for six months to over a year due to the pandemic. So we are seeing folks who are able to go forward and pay going forward. They just cannot pay those arrears, which is exactly why the rental assistance programs were established.
>>AMY NELSON: I think it's also important to remember that eviction is the end result of a number of other housing related problems. And Indiana had an eviction crisis long before the pandemic. The pandemic has only exasperated. We had an affordability problem before the pandemic. We had a substandard housing problem before the pandemic. And of course, we also had a housing discrimination problem during - before the pandemic. The pandemic just made everything much, much worse. And the end result of that is, again, that we need to have systemic change occur and, so we need - very often when we are in the state House and advocating on public policy issues, we hear from legislators that they don't hear their constituents calling to complain about these particular problems. And so we need folks speaking up. There in Bloomington, you have a excellent representative in Matt Pierce who commonly speaks out for tenants on housing issues. But we need to have more legislators doing that. And so my call to action here before we end today is please reach out. Find out who. If you don't know who your representative or senator is, there's lots of tools online. You can contact our office. And we could get that information, you know, to you and to make those calls. Make those emails. We're going to have an election coming up. Make sure that housing questions are part of candidate forums as to how legislators here in our state have voted on previous bills and how they look at addressing the housing crisis that's in our state.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: I want to ask every one of you for a call to action. But first I have one question that came in from a listener that is very basic. If someone gets a notice in Bloomington or I would expand that to elsewhere that they're facing eviction, what's the first thing they should do? Brandon?
>>BRANDON BEELER: Sure. You know the first thing they should do is again see - just like a - start with this point that you know a notice from your landlord is not - you know you cannot be evicted or forcibly I should say removed from your home without a court order. So what we really first and frankly tell folks to do is to try to open the line of communication with their landlord, understand the issue if there's a way to remedy it, work together if. It's a non-payment issue work together to try to get rental assistance, because if it's just a notice like a letter from the landlord, you know trying to communicate with the landlord to mitigate and to stop the case from an eviction case being filed - because as Amy really well pointed out earlier that we don't have eviction ceilings. So the filing itself even if it is able to be resolved can harm the tenant from finding future affordable housing which we've established is pretty limited throughout the state. So first and foremost, we say try to communicate with your landlord to resolve whatever issue. Second would be certainly to try to contact legal aid, our office legal services if they qualify, or other legal aides. There's a lot of community and - or excuse me county legal aides around as well to see if they can also help and try to remedy this. I will say finally if there is a hearing, if it's a notice for a hearing, strongly encouraging the tenant to show up. I can't express that - I know that you know tenants going to court without attorneys is very scary. And again we should really work on issues like that and an expansion of right to counsel would certainly help the clients we serve, but going to court because you can risk a default and risk getting evicted without even having your chance to explain what's going on or just again to be in front of that judge, that neutral - supposedly neutral body to try to resolve issues. Those are kind of the knee-jerk quick advice.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Excellent. Thank you. And the last minute we have Fran Quigley, a call to action.
>>FRAN QUIGLEY: I would like to echo Amy's call to reach out to state lawmakers but also to federal lawmakers. On the federal level we treat housing in two different ways - as a human right or a wealth building tool. We put a lot more federal dollars, our tax dollars into the wealth-building side - corporate landlord subsidies, wealthy homeowner subsidies. If we can readjust that, if our members of Congress, our senators can adjust that and then make the housing assistance available to low income and middle income folks who need it, we don't have to have homelessness. And we don't have to have evictions. Those priorities can be changed at the federal level and our Indiana officials can be the ones to lead the way. We just need to demand that of them.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Forrest, 30 seconds.
>>FORREST GILMORE: I just want to encourage people. I mean what's been said has been wonderful. And I want to just encourage people to support local organizations that are dealing with the crisis. Obviously I work for Beacon and we're both working in homeless prevention and in homeless services and encourage people to both financially and with their time support our organization and others like us.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: All right. Brandon I'm going to give you 30 seconds if you've got one last call to action.
>>BRANDON BEELER: Oh goodness. I think that - I just say try to get involved. Again from a legal perspective I would say there's able to - you know involved with your local bar association. I think we also our clients would really benefit from some uniformity throughout the court system whether that's again hopefully from a statewide perspective to have some sort of time and again ensuring that resources - that tenants are informed of their resources prior to going forward with an eviction hearing. That would be kind of the call there.
>>BOB ZALTSBERG: OK. That's it. We're out of time. Thank you Brandon Beeler, Forrest Gilmore, Amy Nelson and Fran Quigley. For my cohost Sara Wittmeyer, producers Holden Abshier and Bente Bouthier, and engineer John Bailey, I'm Bob Zaltsberg. Thanks for listening to Noon Edition.