INDIANAPOLIS — Affordable housing in the state of Indiana is a challenge for many, whether Hoosiers are renting or paying a mortgage.
According to a report by Prosperity Indiana, 27% of people who rent live in low-income households. In addition, 72% of these households are heavily burdened by costs. In other words, more than half of their annual income is used to pay rent or a mortgage.
“While Indiana has a reputation for being an affordable place to live with a low cost of living, Indiana actually has the highest rate of heavy housing burdens in the entire Midwest, with populations at low income,” said Andrew Bradley, policy director of Prosperity Indiana.
“This has real and significant impacts for individual families, but also for the state as it thinks about how it wants to retain its population and grow its economy.”
When it comes to affordable housing, it’s not just about making sure someone has a roof over their head. A report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition reveals that affordability is often the way to increase economic mobility, safety and health.
“Affordable housing is literally a foundation of economic security and prosperity, not just for your families, but for communities across the state as a whole,” Bradley said. “Having affordable, available and safe housing is necessary for good health outcomes. This is important for educational outcomes and also for overall economic outcomes.
“We do a lot of advocacy work to ensure that not only are we producing new affordable housing, but that the existing housing stock is available, safe and stable.”
Rep. Cherrish Pryor, D-Indianapolis, acknowledges these findings as well as the disparities affecting property value for renters and buyers. House Bill 1326, which was proposed in the 2022 legislative session, would have prohibited discrimination in loans and appraisals based on race, sex, religion, marital status or country of origin. ‘a candidate. Pryor also pushed for housing discrimination to be a major topic of discussion during the interim study committee process.
The bill was forwarded to the Financial Institutions and Insurance Commission but was not heard. Pryor’s recent press release on the matter cites controversial discussions of critical race theory as a “non-issue,” which may have sidelined its legislation in the 2022 session.
“Some of the things we can do was require cultural competency training for assessments,” Pryor said. “We’re also trying to get more minority appraisers and then put in penalties and fines if someone undervalues someone’s property.”
An example of undervaluation came from a 2021 Black Hoosier homeowner who suspected that the appraisal received for the value of his home was too low. To test this theory, a white friend of hers put together the exact same listing, and the price of her review more than doubled. This bias is one that Pryor and other Indiana housing organizations hope to eliminate.
One specific group is the Fair Housing Center of Indiana, which aims to educate about housing bias and encourage community advocacy and awareness. Amy Nelson, the group’s executive director, supports efforts to improve housing equality, particularly the efforts of lawmakers.
“In many ways the state has taken out items from the toolkit that are available in so many cities across our country that just aren’t available here,” Nelson said. “We have an accessibility crisis. We have a substandard housing crisis. We have an eviction crisis and we have a housing discrimination problem.
“And it’s really because there has just been a series of bills passed by the General Assembly, all of which have favored the industry over tenants and other housing consumers.”
“We’re never going to fix the problem if we as a legislature don’t step in,” Pryor said. “I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all solution to this problem. But I think [it is] support the legislation I have, making sure that people who [Hoosiers] get in touch are aware of the legislation, and have them call their legislators… to make it a priority.
Ariana Lovitt is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.