Hoosiers struggling to keep up with their rent payments or utility bills due to the coronavirus pandemic are poised to lose key protections against eviction and service shutoff.
Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Wednesday he intends to allow both the state's rental property eviction moratorium and the prohibition on disconnecting utility services, including internet access, to expire Aug. 14.
The Republican chief executive said Hoosiers behind on their bills should immediately contact their landlord or utility companies to work out a payment plan, or reach out to state agencies for assistance in getting caught up on their payments.
"We do have programs, and funding and resources to help residents who are in need and who qualify for funding," Holcomb said. "I want that to be crystal clear that if you are in need, we are here."
To that end, Holcomb said the state is adding another $15 million to the $25 million already available to Hoosier tenants through the Rental Assistance Portal at IndianaHousingNow.org, or by calling 317-800-6000.
According to the governor's office, more than 24,000 Hoosier renters already have applied for the financial assistance that's paid directly to their landlord, including 4,427 Lake County residents.
The state court system also is preparing to launch a free settlement facilitation program to promote housing stability by having landlords and tenants negotiate payment agreements before a neutral third party, instead of following the traditional eviction process in front of a judge.
Utility assistance? Call 211
On the other hand, Hoosiers needing utility payment assistance have fewer options, since the application deadline for Indiana's 2020 Energy Assistance Program closed July 31, and applications for the 2021 program won't be available until at least September, according to the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority.
The state recommends individuals about to lose their utility services to call 2-1-1 to potentially be connected to local social services agencies that may be able to provide temporary assistance.
The governor's decision to no longer renew the eviction moratorium and utility shutoff prohibition comes on the heels of Congress failing to extend the $600 per week supplemental unemployment insurance payment that goes to many of the 11.2% of Hoosiers currently out of work.
Statewide, an estimated 44% of Indiana rental households are at imminent risk of eviction, according to a July 31 analysis by the investment banking firm Stout Risius Ross, LLC.
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