Task force recommends state cash, bad landlord crackdown, to ease housing crisis

An interim study committee examining solutions to Indiana’s housing crisis on Thursday approved a lengthy list of recommendations for future legislation — including state funding for housing-related infrastructure and a vague pledge to hold accountable negligent landlords peddling “substandard” housing.There are 16 early-stage ideas on the draft list. But despite their broad strokes and wide range, all have the same goal: boost housing in Indiana, said Housing Task Force Co-Chair Rep. Doug Miller, R-Elkhart.“This in no way, shape or form has to be the absolute definitive. We had to take a 10,000-foot view and decide, of all the issues that were presented [at] the task force, what can move the needle?” Miller asked. State could step in Chief among those solutions — and the most likely...

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Study: Indiana’s growing refugee population needs language services, housing, job access

Study: Indiana’s growing refugee population needs language services, housing, job access

Language services, affordable housing and access to jobs are among the top needs of Indiana’s growing refugee population, according to a new report published this week by Indiana University researchers. Researchers at IU’s Center for Research on Inclusion and Social Policy (CRISP) used interviews with local refugees and employees at refugee-serving agencies in Indiana to inform the report, which intends to identify service gaps and provide policy recommendations. Research analyzed throughout the policy brief shows the barriers both groups face are often intertwined. The report follows an influx of Afghan refugees that came to Indiana last year, after escaping a country once again ruled by Taliban militants. “It led me and my team to start thinking – what does this process of resettlement...

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State, local policies needed to remedy homelessness

State, local policies needed to remedy homelessness

As housing prices increase for both buyers and renters, more Hoosiers are getting squeezed out of the market and families are pushed toward homelessness. But researchers argue the state could take steps to help its most vulnerable Hoosiers. This year’s point-in-time count in Indianapolis reported an overall decrease in the number of people experiencing homelessness. But for those under the age of 24, whether in a family or not, homelessness continued to increase over pre-pandemic figures. “I was super surprised to see the increase in individuals under the age of 24 and (in) families,” said Brendan Bow, the lead researcher for the count and an accompanying policy brief. “A lot of the populations went up a lot for 2021 during COVID but most of the age groups went back down.” In particular,...

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Pandemic-hit homeowners say state program saved houses: “It should be on a billboard”

Pandemic-hit homeowners say state program saved houses: “It should be on a billboard”

John Bauer’s salvation came as a phone call. The Porter County resident had been out of work since the pandemic first blasted into the Chicago area, where he’d worked as a tile-setter. Bauer said he resisted applying for unemployment benefits, but folded as the pandemic dragged longer. Illinois ended its federally enhanced unemployment benefits in September 2021. Bauer’s wife, Cynthia, succumbed to Covid-19 on New Year’s Day. Six days later, a propane heater in the garage — feet away from Bauer — exploded into a fire that consumed the garage, melted his utility meter and damaged his house’s siding, roof, windows and door. Bauer’s income dropped to near-nothing as the expenses, insurance complexities and grief piled up. By early 2022, he’d fallen behind on the mortgage for the house his...

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