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Moratorium On Eviction Ends, Indiana Sees Increase In Hoosiers Applying For Assistance

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>>UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Production support for Noon Edition comes from Smithville, fiber internet, streaming TV, home security and automation in southern Indiana. More information at Smithfield.com. And from the Bloomington Health Foundation, partnering with local organizations and citizens to invest in programs that address our community's health needs. Bloomington Health Foundation, improving health and well-being takes a community. More at bloomhf.org. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Welcome to Noon Edition. I'm Bob Zaltsberg, your host today. I'm from the WFIU WTIU newsroom. My cohost is Sara Wittmeyer, the WFIU WTIU news bureau chief. We've been recording the show remotely since March to avoid the risk of spreading infections, and today we're going to continue that trend. Today we're going to be talking about the potential for a rash of evictions since the moratorium on evictions was lifted on August 14th. We have five guests with us, joining us from around the county. We have Reverend Forrest Gilmore, the executive director of the Shalom Community Center; Douglas McCoy, the Kelley School of Business director of the Center for Real Estate Studies and the owner of Grant properties; Efrat Feferman is the executive director of United Way of Monroe County; Dan Combs is a Perry Township trustee; and Tonda Radewan is the Monroe County housing and evictions resource project director. You can follow us on Twitter at Noon Edition. You can send us questions there, and you can also send us questions to the show at news@indianapublicmedia.org. So thank you everybody for joining us today. I want to start with Doug McCoy from the Kelley School because - so Professor McCoy, you know, you study these kind of things. So what do you see coming up now that the moratorium has been lifted? 

>>DOUGLAS MCCOY: Yes, thank you very much. Well, first off as an owner of property here in Bloomington - and what I have is student properties - the occupancy and the collection are just excellent. They really have not been impacted by the virus, so that's helped the Bloomington economy and Bloomington landlords a lot in the student market. And that's one point I'd like to make. In looking at multi-family rental housing, it's helpful to kind of divided into different categories. And through the Center for Real Estate Studies we have many of the largest landlords in the state involved in our program, and some of them are - they have properties throughout the country. So - but if - in talking to them, if you look at student rental properties, collection occupancy is excellent. If you look at what they call market rate properties where there's really no element of affordability, no element of workforce housing, just you know people paying market rate, there's no outside support. Occupancy and collections are very positive. Last meeting we have - and we've been having monthly Zoom meetings with a lot of our constituents. They're - you know they're up in the 95% collection rate. Where you start to see some stress is then in the other category which you might call affordable or workforce housing. But it's not been, you know, all that bad in that it's - probably what they're seeing is they're around 88% collection or so. Now this has been helped of course due to unemployment and so forth that comes in. And then also some of these folks are already getting some subsidy or maybe on Section 8 or whatever. So - and the other point I think I'd like to make, besides those different property types and seeing the stress more in the affordable workforce, is the tenants that are living there. So if we're looking at students - probably largely supported by student loans and/or their parents. And then if we look at market rate, we're usually talking about export sector or what we might call export sector jobs or white collar jobs. And if we're looking at affordable workforce housing we're probably looking more at service jobs. And we know pretty clearly from the virus that while a lot of folks when you - what you might want to call export sector white collar jobs have been able to maintain employment by turning to virtual work, but the service jobs such as, you know, waiting tables or what have you, a lot of that stuff was impacted. So that's why we see more of the stress in that area. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: We have a lot of speakers today, a lot of our panelists that deal with people who are in the area where there is the most stress. So I wanted to ask them what they're seeing. Let's start with Efrat Feferman, Monroe County's United Way executive director. Efrat, you have a lot of people you have contact with regularly who need affordable or workforce housing or have no housing at all. So what's this, the lifting of the moratorium, what are you expecting to see? 

>>EFRAT FEFERMAN: Yeah, great question. We - and to frame this, we already had half of our community struggling before this all hit - 1 in 5 households in full blown poverty, 1 in 3 in the ALICE category where they're working but often at lower wage jobs. And especially the last 10, 15 years of cost of living has all risen disproportionately to wages. And the ALICE category is not eligible for federal benefits. So a lot of United Way's work targets this population because this is where one hardship can spin a family or an individual spiraling into poverty. And as my friend Forrest often says, poverty is - it's expensive to be poor. And hopefully he'll expound on that a little bit. And so we really need to do all that we can to keep people and families from suffering and falling into that spiral in the wake of the pandemic. It has affected individuals and families in numerous ways, and the repercussions I think are really yet to be fully felt as the moratorium lifts and as the unemployment benefits - you know, we'll see what happens with that. But right now those have ended, the extended benefits. It's putting a lot of pressure on people. And so I think that's why our food pantries are feeling it. The utilities along with landlords are seeing those delinquent accounts. And so that - we have some challenges ahead of us, but I think we also have some great work to build on and take notes from, from the recent months. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: So I'm not sure I heard you right but the ALICE category? Is that what you said? I'm not sure what that is. 

>>EFRAT FEFERMAN: Sorry. Yeah, that's an acronym for Asset Limited Income Constrained but Employed. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: OK (laughter). 

>>EFRAT FEFERMAN: Years ago we may have used the term the working poor - so people who are working but they're still struggling, they have little savings in the bank. And in Monroe County in the region that's 1 in 3 households and that's again in addition to the 1 in 5 living in poverty. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: OK. Thank you. Let's go to Forrest next because, you know, Forrest Gilmore is on the forefront of fighting poverty in the community as well with the Shalom Community Center. So do you want to talk about what - maybe expand on what Efrat was saying? 

>>FORREST GILMORE: Sure, yeah. I mean, I think there's - you know, obviously we're experiencing a really profound economic crisis that's affecting so many people. The employment rate is - continues to be very high. And that's going to put lots of people at risk of losing their homes. I mean, I think what Efrat was talking about was just the other day we helped a family with their utilities - to pay for their utilities. And it was we helped them with $250 which was a bit less than a month of their full utility - their electric bill, $330. And I looked at my own utility bill which is $10 a month, which could have provided for two years of utilities. And so seeing that just 23 days of support for this family and what something for me that would have provided two years because of the solar panels on my roof is just a real kind of making it clear that when you're poor, it's harder to get out of poverty because things are more expensive. And COVID is just adding more and more to that and on top of that and making that really challenging for people. We're particularly worried about this. You know, whenever you can prevent someone from falling into homelessness, that's what you want to do. So this is a full charge right now because once someone falls into homelessness, it doesn't get better from there. I mean, that's a - it's an incredible trauma on people's lives and challenge on people's lives when that happens. So we want to prevent that as best we can. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: All right. Thanks. We have a lot of things we can cover as the show goes along. I want to bring Dan Combs in now because Dan as a Perry Township trustee - I mean, township trustees do a whole range of things but, you know, providing assistance - financial assistance on certain things is certainly one of them. Can you talk about how you're seeing this and the kind of things - the people that you're serving and the things that you're seeing? 

>>DAN COMBS: It's - thank you for having me on, by the way. The - we're not at the crisis level yet. We ran a landlord survey at the end of June for the first date of the removal of the eviction moratorium. And we found there were only three houses - three households within our big affordable housing complexes and market rate complexes that were on the bubble. A lot of that has to do with the stimulus subsidy checks that came in. Also - and this is a real concern for us is, you know, we front-loaded a lot of money coming into Bloomington and Monroe County - amounts I've not seen. I've been here for 34 years and I've never seen anything like this. My concern isn't that today we have a crisis. It's that today we think we have done what we can for the crisis. The real crisis I think in utilities in particular, people can be seven months in arrears right now but they won't get their disconnect notices until the end of this month. And at that time we anticipate a pretty good level of requests for assistance mainly because we go back to the utility moratoriums that are put on traditionally every year. And they end in March and then in April and May we see utility bills that really - as Forrest said, it's expensive to be poor - but these bills will - you know, it's not unusual to see a thousand-dollar request. And that has to come from somewhere. The county commissioners have given us, the townships, $100,000 for us to go above and beyond what we normally do. And, you know, actually that's a little bit harder for us than you would think because we're traditionally looking at just enough to get out of crisis and try to stabilize before the next billing cycle. And now what we're able to do, if people come to see us in time, is keep the utilities on and get the bills to go away. How long that will keep up in September or October, then, you know, when the lack of federal funding and the lack of state - continued state funding starts kicking in on unemployment and on business subsidies, I really anticipate some severe issues mainly because we've given so much money up front. And people think, well, we did this once. Well, yeah, we did it before the demand was there, which was good foresight. However, that doesn't mean - you know, what we've done so far is not a solution. It's really just preparatory to trying to come up with a solution. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Yeah. Dan, I think what you describe a lot is that I think there is starting to - a little bit of fatigue is setting in for people because it's been a while. And people are - it's - you know, have maybe thought it was a sprint. But it's not a sprint. It's a marathon. 

>>DAN COMBS: Right. You know, traditionally - we ran our data back into the 1990s. And when a recession starts traditionally we see our peak demand for service about 18 months after the recession actually begins and it's because of what you've said - you know, fatigue, whatever. But, you know, there is a danger in just putting it all out there and then moving onto the next crisis of the day. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: All right. So I'm going to bring Tonda in now. Tonda Radewan is the coordinator for the Monroe County Housing and Evictions Resource Project. Can you tell us a little bit about that project? 

>>DAN COMBS: Sure. And thank you for having me on the program. So we started this project in June of 2019, actually, in the justice building where we were providing onsite legal advice, mediation services, and then housing and social services referrals to tenants and landlords on the date of their hearing. So if a party wasn't able to get legal advice prior to their hearing, they could show up and those resources were available either just before their hearing in the courtroom. At times there would be - there could be a break when other hearings were being met and you might be in the hallway getting limited legal advice or even have the opportunity to mediate while the hearings were in session, come back into open court and present an agreement in front of the judge. And so the whole idea for this project was to reduce the number of evictions and hopefully allow people to remain in their homes if that was a possibility. If it wasn't a possibility, then to hopefully work with the landlords and tenants to work together with agreements whether it's in a payment agreement or a voluntary move-out agreement versus a court ordered eviction to keep that eviction off record, which obviously is a barrier to securing future housing. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: A couple of quick follow-up questions, one is your services are free to the public? 

>>TONDA RADEWAN: Yes, they are. The onsite services are free. We're able to do that through the grant funding that supports our project. So we received a grant from the Community Foundation. Actually the Monroe County United Way has also provided some funding when we realized in this pandemic situation that what we had assumed would meet the staffing needs of course is not nearly enough. So there was some emergency grant funding that allowed us to be present in the - in eviction emergency eviction hearings. But they are free services to landlords and tenants during those eviction hearings. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Could you walk us through what happens if there is an eviction that is - OK, say I'm a person who can't pay my rent. I haven't paid it for several months and my landlord comes to me and said, hey, you haven't paid me. I'm going to evict you. What happens? They have to go through the courts? 

>>TONDA RADEWAN: Well, you know, I can tell you today was the first date that eviction hearings for non-payment were heard. Of course, the moratorium ended on the 14th and so a lot of those hearings that had been scheduled in March have not been heard - for non-payment - have not been heard until today. And so if you're coming to our project wanting advice, you've just received that notice, then first we see if you're interested in free legal advice. That way you can understand what your rights are, what the landlord's rights are, and so you have a better way to be prepared should mediation not be an option. So after a party has legal advice, then we see if they're interested in negotiating some type of an agreement through CGM Community Justice and Mediation Center. The idea behind that is trying to come to a solution that works for both parties prior to going to court. Our hope would be to come up with a solution prior to a small claims eviction case even being filed. And so part of that is making sure people are aware of the rental assistance programs through the IHCDA, seeing if people have contacted their township trustee to investigate the different services that might be available should they apply and be approved, and then also going to other nonprofit agencies and organizations in towns. Shalom is one of them where they might be able to get case management or funding to be able to be in a better position to negotiate with their landlord. So there's a lot of different ways that a tenant can possibly get resources, but they might not know about them. And we're trying to direct them to those resources that might be available. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: All right. Today on Noon Edition we're talking about a potential rise of evictions in Indiana and in Monroe County. You can participate in a live chat by tweeting @noonedition or you can send us questions to news@indianapublicmedia.org. 

>>SARA WITTMEYER: Tonda, can you just talk a little bit more about some creative ways maybe that you've seen renters and landlords find success in working together on a payment plan or other ways to avoid being evicted? You named a few there, I know. 

>>TONDA RADEWAN: Certainly. I would say that one of the most beneficial options that we've seen during hearings and even prior to is a voluntary surrender agreement versus a court ordered eviction. If the parties - if retention and remaining in the unit isn't a possibility, then there is an option of an agreed move-out date which means that that eviction is not on a party's record, and that way when they're going to look for alternate housing that barrier is not there. Another success has been working with the mediators and coming up with the option to possibly remain should a certain amount of payment be paid. That has - that option wasn't necessarily available before the program was there where you could potentially pay your arrears and possibly pay those arrears through a voucher from the township trustees office or from other organizations in the community that provide that and be able to stay in the unit if those arrears are paid. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Doug, I want to... 

>>SARA WITTMEYER: And another... 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Go ahead, Sara. 

>>SARA WITTMEYER: Another question that we got from Jerry - it's really a two-part question. And Doug you might be in the best position to answer this, but then certainly somebody else could follow up if need be. But the first question is my renters lease will be up for renewal in November. I've chosen not to renew a lease with this renter at the end of the lease. Can I do this during COVID-19? Am I required to give a reason for non-renewal? And is it OK to send a certified letter 30 days prior to the lease completion date to notify the renter in Indiana? A lot there. What do you think, Doug? 

>>DOUGLAS MCCOY: Yeah. I think it's - I don't know of a requirement for the landlord to have an obligation to renew. And while notice is appreciated the lease is terminating - and I may not be qualified and somebody else may know this more in detail. But I don't know of a legal requirement to notify. But definitely out of just good business practices, that would be I think a reasonable expectation. 

>>TONDA RADEWAN: I would say that this is a typical question that is asked of our project, and that would be something - that type of question would be referred to one of our attorneys that provide free legal advice in order to answer this question. So I would really suggest anybody with those types of queries to contact our project, and they could get free legal advice. 


>>SARA WITTMEYER: Now that was - he asked another question. He asked in being a landlord from my home that I rent, where can I go when I have questions about renting a home in Indiana? Is there a website or contact agency? So that sounds like it would be you, Tonda. 

>>: (CROSSTALK) 

>>DAN COMBS: Go ahead. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Tonda, you go first. 

>>TONDA RADEWAN: Oh. Well I actually wouldn't - when there are housing questions like that that come in, I tend to suggest that people look at Housing4Hoosiers website that's put out by South Central Indiana Housing Opportunities. Most of my focus now with the moratorium being lifted and with three hearings being scheduled every 15 minutes in the courts is really to focus on providing resources to those people that are facing eviction. And so I'd like to be able to defer back to other people on that. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Dan? 

>>DAN COMBS: Yeah. I'd like to go back and touch on something Mr. McCoy said earlier on about there are different categories of housing. And he looked at it from the consumer end. And while we're talking about evictions specifically, one of the things that I've learned is there's another way to look at that through the category of the landlords themselves. The large corporations are able to hire attorneys, accountants, whatever, and can minimize damage from disruption in rental payments. Where we seem to see the most aggressive landlords are very small landlords who may have a second mortgage on a property, and they cannot really afford to let four or five months-worth of rent back up. And I don't know if Tonda has any numbers on that. That's just our maybe anecdotal experience. But we always have in mind, people think that the tenant is the person who benefits from rent assistance. And to my knowledge, outside of the PPP program there's no program to minimize the impact on those mom and pop landlords. And they still are a factor in the Bloomington market. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Do you have something that you want to add to what Dan just said? All right. Having seen none, I want to ask Forrest about the grant that you got at the Shalom Center - what's that's being used for and how you can provide help for people. 

>>FORREST GILMORE: Yeah. We're - we did receive a $500,000 grant, which we're obviously very excited about, which is all about rental assistance, helping people stay in their homes, helping them pay their landlord so that they can meet their rent. And it's - you can apply for it. And anyone is eligible for this funding if you've been impacted by COVID. So if COVID has impacted you economically, health wise, you can apply for this at indianahousingnow.org. There's actually three local providers that are supporting, you know, this program. South Central Community Action Program, New Hope for Families and Shalom are all local resources that will be providing that financial assistance. But it's indianahousingnow.org where people need to apply. And there's different programs depending on what people - how much - what people's income is. But the minimum that someone could potentially get is up to $2,000 over four months' rent. And if your income is below 50% of the area median income, you can actually get up to six months of full rent including back rent to support you. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: OK. Now, I'd like for you and Efrat to both comment on some things that Dan said earlier about how, you know, we've sort of met the first challenges fairly well. But the next set of challenges might be even - I'm paraphrasing, Dan, so if I'm wrong, let me know. But the second, this next wave of challenges might be even more difficult. Is that pretty much what you... 

>>EFRAT FEFERMAN: Yeah. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Yeah? OK. Efrat? 

>>EFRAT FEFERMAN: I'll jump in. Agreed. And United Way launched the COVID Relief Fund. In March, we raised 1.6 million and initially thought that we would distribute it in four phases - 30, 60, 90, 180 days. Of course where we're about at 180 days. And we need to extend that fourth phase out further. So we do still have some funds remaining. We are also still accepting donations to the COVID Relief Fund. A hundred percent of those go out into our community to meet the needs that are evolving and changing. But United Way is also transitioning its ongoing work to the recovery and resilience of our community so that in the fall when we launch our traditional annual campaign, you're going to hear the plans laid out for how we support the ongoing needs that have changed in recent months. So I think, yeah, it is not by any means over. It is not over in 180 days as we may have thought in March. This will be our focus for the foreseeable near future. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Forrest? 

>>FORREST GILMORE: Yeah. Just to add to that to what Dan said. Back in 2008 when we had the last major recession, we saw a peak in homelessness start in 2010. And so I think that's painful to acknowledge but to echo what he said about the numbers that he saw, that this issue may feel like a crisis right now. And it certainly is. But the crisis is not necessarily going to stop even if we get to resolutions around COVID and the situations for that. We may be looking at another year to two years or more seeing the impact of this on people's livelihoods, on their household income, on their ability to stay in their homes. Some people may be, you know, using up their resources now and over time may then start to need to come to more public resources later. And so this is something to focus on now but also to really keep the long haul in mind. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: So I wanted to ask about the state has been talking about a settlement arbitration tool. And I wanted to ask just for opinions on that. Is that a good idea to try to help settle some of these conflicts that might arise, Dan? 

>>DAN COMBS: Did you say Dan? 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: I did, Dan. Do you want to - a settlement arbitration tool, is that good? 

>>DAN COMBS: I'm not really clear on that particular proposal so. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: OK. So sorry I didn't mean to put you on the spot. Does anybody want to address that? How about Tonda? 

>>TONDA RADEWAN: Sure. Thank you. We are eagerly awaiting what that program is going to entail. My understanding of it is that it may be similar to settlement conferences that are held in mortgage foreclosure actions. I think that I'm very supportive of that. Our project is as well. We're wondering how we're going to work in tandem with whatever that's going to - however that's going to transpire. Anything in my opinion that is going to allow the landlords and the tenants to come to solutions prior to their hearing date is going to be helpful. We had cases this morning where that original eviction hearing was in late March because of course March 14th was the last date that eviction hearings for non-payment actually were in front the bench. And so even this morning in some of the hearings that were happening the tenants had remained on the property. Dan had brought up earlier these - especially the mom and pop landlords where they haven't received a rent payment in seven months and the tenants haven't been able to find alternate housing in those seven months. And if the state's program can assist in that manner, I think it's welcome. But we really do have to focus on some solutions because the court docket is scheduled out, the last I looked, through late October for some of those eviction filings that are being filed now. I'm really dreading in a lot of ways the phone calls that I'm going to continue to receive for people that are working. They are wanting to come up with a solution on their own. Even the landlords that are willing to work with their tenants and are eagerly anticipating approval, whether it's of a trustee voucher for rental assistance, the state's program that both Forrest - Shalom and New Hope For Families are working with - everybody's just kind of waiting and hopeful that there is a solution but also trying to anticipate the needs that are going to come up in October and November. I hopefully answered your question. Sorry. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: No, that was fine. 

>>: (CROSSTALK) 

>>SARA WITTMEYER: Follow up question we got for Doug and the question is was the rent moratorium a good way to help struggling Hoosiers? Some of the things I've read have criticized the effort saying it allows people to accrue too much debt. 

>>DOUGLAS MCCOY: Yeah. I would say overall it has been a good thing. That is definitely a possibility that that could be the case. But for the most part, taking that pressure off people, giving them an opportunity to continue to have stability in their home and basically to - you know, the landlord knows where they stand. The tenant knows where they stand. I think that's a lot more positive than it is negative. And kind of just around that point if I could, it's interesting. One of our constituents is a very large landlord - 20 some thousand apartment units across the Midwest and so forth. And they proactively reached out to their workforce housing portfolio folks and said we know this could be a difficult time. And we want to work with you. And it's interesting because also being exposed to commercial situations where we have restaurants and so forth that have really been hard hit and now the PPP money's running out and I've just really admired the cooperation and kind of back to what you'd asked about and that was another type of support, having the moratorium. But there's been great cooperation from what I can see and is from between landlord and tenant, between landlord and their bank and also with the government support that's come in. So it's kind of interesting, right? We have these things happening and they're really brought to light because of the pandemic because of the virus. But I think we're hearing a lot today that this is a problem prior to the virus and is an ongoing issue. And I'm with everyone else that we got to continue to battle the best we can, realizing it's a longer term issue that's arguably, you know, independent of the virus. 

>>SARA WITTMEYER: And another question we got. Maybe Efrat you can take this one. But kind of a simple question. Why is an eviction damaging on an individual when you look at future housing prospects? 

>>EFRAT FEFERMAN: Oh, certainly. And Tonda I am sure could add to this because that shows up on your record, and then a landlord may wish to not accept you in the future because of your record. Not only that, there are costs often involved with eviction that maybe were unanticipated. So back to that idea of a spiral of debt, when individuals already didn't have a cushion, and once you get into that spiral, you're paying more to finance things. And it's pretty hard to get out of that place. 

>>DOUGLAS MCCOY: If I might? 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Yes, sir. 

>>DOUGLAS MCCOY: The question about the - what damage does it do? It's really kind of remarkable. But most of our big Section 8 or low-income subsidized housing complexes actually do a credit check to - before they allow people to sign a lease, which means that you need low-income housing because you can't afford it. You've defaulted somewhere, got a judgment and you cannot be accepted. That's the - Efrat mentioned that it's on your record. But the record goes much deeper than just any random landlord looking. It is the policy of most low-income and affordable housing complexes to check that rental history. And the second thing, if I might at this time, the landlords have done - that we work with - have done a really good job of staying with their tenants. And one of the reasons we don't have large complex evictions in big numbers is because we work with those complexes and companies, and they refer people to us when they see trouble developing so we're able to deal with it early. And I can't speak for Forrest and I can't speak for Tonda but my guess is they will say, too, that the earlier we can get to a client - not waiting until the eviction process and - but getting them as these things develop, it's much easier to resolve someone who owes $800 than it is someone who owes $4,000. And that's a message we need to get out to landlords that if you have a problem with a tenant, then try to get them to come and see people before court. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Forrest, you want to add to that or Tonda? Either one. 

>>FORREST GILMORE: Yeah. Sure. Absolutely. Yeah, we want to get people - and people often rely on their own personal resources before they start turning to public resources. So often the time was when we started to contact people or get in touch with people that it's often really late in the game and hard to help. So we want people to reach out as soon as they can in order to get support. And I just also wanted to just add in terms of, you know, the impact of this. You know, we know in our community that even before the COVID crisis, trying to help people get a home who have an eviction to be able to rent is extremely difficult, even if their rent is fully being paid by some kind of subsidized resource. And so it's incredibly difficult. And if you have two evictions on your record, it's almost impossible to find housing locally in our community. There was just a family that I was in touch with recently where they have not been - because of COVID and the impacts have not been able to pay their rent going back very few months. And they're - you know, just newborn baby in this household and such. And they are in panic mode as they just got their 10-day notice to evict from their landlord. And they're not knowing what to do. So obviously we communicated with them to apply. But that's the kind of impact that we're seeing. It's not people who've chosen not to pay their rent and for some, you know, negligent reason. These are folks who've been hit hard by the impact of this. They've lost their jobs. They've lost their income. Just struggling to get by and now they're in a serious hole after all of these months. And so the moratorium if anything gave us time to get in place resources to help families like that one. 

>>SARA WITTMEYER: This is another question we got for Tonda. This is from Jane and saying what should landlords or tenants do prior to filing eviction? I think she's asking specifically about what your group would do to help. 

>>TONDA RADEWAN: So what we would suggest is to contact (inaudible) Community Justice and Mediation Center. First of all, on your own you can reach out to the other party. Communication is the key. Dan had mentioned this also that reaching out to the other party and trying to come up with a solution before months pass by, before rental arrears accrue, is - always your best option is communication, doing what you can to come up with a solution prior to an eviction being filed. Now obviously that is not possible in all situations, especially if you are a tenant that is behind. You might - you know, for whatever reason it might be difficult for you to reach out to that landlord, or maybe you've tried and you haven't been successful. I would say that you can get legal advice through our project, and then you can reach out to an attorney. And you can do this on your own without any involvement through our project either. But to try to come up with a solution ahead of time because if it's left up to a filing with the court and a court date, that's going to be months from now. As quickly as people want to resolve it through the court system, there is a backlog due to the pandemic and due to the moratorium. But as a lot of the previous speakers have mentioned, that problem was there prior to March. So I would suggest reaching out to the other party if you're a landlord or tenant and then trying to negotiate an agreement through mediation. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: We only have about 10 minutes to go, maybe a little less than 10 minutes. But if you have a question, you can send it to news@indianapublicmedia.org and we will try to get it in. I wanted to talk to - I want to ask I guess Forrest you would be good to talk to first and Efrat, Dan, really any of our panelists. But it just seems like, you know, we talked a lot of about poverty and the issues of poverty. And I'm not sure that people always understand, you know, the real difficulty. I think you were talking before about how it's kind of expensive to be poor. But you know I think about the idea that, you know, you can't pay your mortgage. Well, maybe you have a car and you can't make your car payment. And we talked about utility bills and maybe you can't pay for your health insurance if you have any. So Forrest, could you just kind of talk about that cascading effect? 

>>FORREST GILMORE: I mean you just did it really well there, Bob (laughter). 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Oh, thank you (laughter). you. 

>>FORREST GILMORE: But I think there's also just the impact of - I mean, I think it's one of all of our greatest fears is to become homeless. I think one of the reasons that there's so much stigma against people experiencing homelessness is because it's one of our great terrors. We're terrified of losing our homes. Because when you lose your homes you not only lose the stability of the location, you lose mementos. You lose all the things that that provided for you. You lose a safe place to take a shower (laughter), you know, a safe place to sleep, a place to put your car and your things and your stuff and all that, not to mention the security it provides for your family. And so it's an uncommitted incredibly tumultuous event. I think any of us know how hard it is just to move from one home to another. So just, you know, one of the most stressful experiences out there is just moving. But to actually lose your home and not to have a place to go is just an incredibly traumatic experience. And it just gets worse from there. It doesn't get easier or better once you become homeless. It adds on top of it, you know, all other kinds of things. Trying to just survive is incredibly traumatic and difficult. And then trying to be able to find work on top of that, meet all the standards of the homeless services that are out there and the challenges of that, and, you know, when is bedtime? And all these kinds of things - navigating transportation - there's actually a study that shows that mental illness causes homelessness as often as homelessness causes mental illness. That the stress of homelessness is so severe that it actually leads people to become mentally ill because of the experience. So if there's anything we can do to prevent a person from losing their home, we need to be doing it. That needs to be priority number one is keeping people in their homes so they don't fall deeper into the challenges of homelessness and extreme poverty. 

>>EFRAT FEFERMAN: Yeah. And I often cite small examples about - to illustrate this notion that being poor is more expensive. So, you know, I have the luxury of getting in my car and driving to Kroger and filling up my trunk. I could, if I need toilet paper, I may buy the $12, you know, big case of it. If I did not have a car and had a limited budget to work with, I may only get that one roll or two rolls. And the per roll cost is four times greater than that bulk cost. And that's just one little example of what we're talking about. I also saw it in the utilities world. I was with CBU City Utilities for many years in the finance department. And if you don't have the means to afford those small investments in efficiency, you're the one who is going to end up with that slow leak that slowly costs you more and more and more over time until it just does it - maybe it finally breaks and then what do you do? And these are all just little examples of that. I did want to just maybe draw our audience's attention to some of the other services in our community, especially if you're a landlord and you see a tenant struggling or if you're in that position where things are tight. And we said, you know, people often use up their own resources first before turning to social services and nonprofits. But right now, folks should prioritize paying the rent and the utilities and all of those things and turn to the help available in the community for things like food, for things like diapers and baby items, hygiene items and clothing. There are a lot of organizations offering all of these supports. In fact, as we speak today from 11:00 to 3:00, Hoosier Hills food bank out on West Industrial Park Drive is doing their bi-weekly food box giveaway. It's about 40 pounds of food including all healthy stuff - fresh produce and meat and all of that. No questions asked. No paperwork to fill out. Its drive by and pick it up. So I encourage families to think about turning to some of those things that can save them some money that maybe they need to put into catching up on some other bills. There's also resources available for mental health that are free or low-cost because that's another repercussion of what we've all been going through in recent months. An easy one to remember is 2-1-1. If you dial that number - and it's 24 hours a day seven days a week - right now they have added a free counseling service with trained professionals. They're also a resource to help you navigate to any of these things - child care, food, shelter, et cetera. And then we have organizations like Catholic Charities in town and Center Stone who do sliding scale mental health services, and they have adapted those things to be virtual right now so that people can access them safely. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: That's a perfect way to come close to ending the show. But I just wanted to ask you also Efrat if there are people out there who don't necessarily need services but they really want to help, what recommendation would you have for them? 

>>EFRAT FEFERMAN: Certainly. Of course the United Way preaches give, advocate, volunteer. So giving, we do have our COVID Relief Fund as I mentioned and you can get on our website at monroeunitedway.org and make a big impact in the lives of our friends and neighbors. Advocate, this is a time when you can grab information online from our website National United Way, other organizations that are advocacy organizations. And then take that next step and contact your elected officials when something is being discussed that needs more of our voices, like a stimulus package or a housing bill. And then volunteer. There are still plenty of ways to do that right now through an agency of your choice. And a lot of those are on the Bloomington Volunteer Network. You can look that up and go there. There's also the Mutual Aid Group - Monroe County Mutual Aid that you can find on social media. There is Helping Hands which is an app that you can download. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: OK. We're gonna to have to end it there though. Lots of places to help but thank you so much. 

>>EFRAT FEFERMAN: Absolutely. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Thank you so much. 

>>EFRAT FEFERMAN: Thank you. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: I want to thank our guests today. That was Efrat Feferman the executive director of Monroe County United Way and also the Reverend Forrest Gilmore from the Shalom Center, Douglas McCoy from the Kelley School of Business, Dan Combs a Perry Township trustee and Tonda Radewan Monroe County Housing and Evictions Resource Project. For my cohost Sara Wittmeyer, for producers Bente Bouthier and John Bailey and Mark Chilla, engineers Matt Stonecipher and Mike Paskash, I'm Bob Zaltsberg. Thanks for listening. 

>>UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Noon Edition is a production of WFIU public radio. A podcast of this program is available at wfiu.org. Production support for Noon Edition comes from Smithville - fiber internet, streaming TV, home security and automation in southern Indiana. More information at smithville.com and from the Bloomington Health Foundation - partnering with local organizations and citizens to invest in programs that address our community's health needs. Bloomington Health Foundation - improving health and well-being takes a community. More at bloomhf.org.

homes

(WFIU/WTIU News)

Noon Edition airs on Fridays at noon on WFIU.

Indiana's nearly 5-month long moratorium on evictions expired last week.

The hold on evictions was an executive order by Gov. Eric Holcomb in response to financial struggles felt throughout the state during the pandemic.

The state's unemployment rate has remained high because of COVID-19.

Holcomb extended the executive order multiple times, and a group of landlords filed a lawsuit against him claiming the order oversteps his authority and violates the Indiana constitution.

Because the moratorium was not extended past Aug. 14, courts and advocates anticipate an increase soon in the number of evictions.

One investment banking company, Stout Risius Ross, LLC, released an analysis at the end of July estimating 44 percent of Indiana rental households are at risk of eviction.

The Indiana Supreme Court set up a Landlord/Tenant Task Force to provide guidance on when eviction cases can resume. Renters can apply for housing assistance through the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority.

At the beginning of August, Holcomb said he would add $15 million to the $25 million already allocated for the rental assistance program.

According to the Indiana Lawyer, more than 30,000 Hoosiers have applied for assistance since the program launched in July.

Because more than 60 percent of Bloomington residents are renters, questions remain as to how many people in Bloomington are vulnerable.

This week, we're talking about the expected rise in evictions in the state and in Bloomington.

You can follow us on Twitter @NoonEdition or join us on the air by calling in at 812-855-0811 or toll-free at 1-877-285-9348. You can also send us questions for the show at news@indianapublicmedia.org.

Note-This week of our guests and hosts will participate remotely to avoid risk of spreading infection. Because of this we will not be able to take callers live on-air.

Guests

Rev. Forrest Gilmore, Shalom Community Center executive director

Douglas McCoy, Kelley School of Business director of the Center for Real Estate Studies, owner of Grant Properties

Efrat Feferman, United Way Monroe County executive director

Dan Combs, Perry Township trustee

Tonda Radewan, Monroe County Housing & Evictions Resource Project coordinator

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