The Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition is disappointed that the General Assembly has completed the override of Governor Holcomb’s veto of SEA 148 without input from stakeholders who advocate on behalf of the 30% of Hoosiers who rent their homes and without a plan to mitigate the immediate and long-term damage it will create. The Coalition urges the General Assembly to use its remaining time this session to implement common-sense solutions that have been left out of the discussion to date.
Throughout SEA 148’s 11-month ordeal, the process for creating language that would affect approximately 2 million renters was never open to their input. No stakeholders that represent the interests of tenants or their communities was allowed input into the original language of SEA 148 and the two ‘trailer bills’ which, despite claims to the contrary, leave the new law overly broad and unbalanced in scope and is now made law at exactly the wrong time.
In the short term, SEA 148 becomes effective immediately and will allow seven new forms of expedited evictions in the middle of a glacial winter and an ongoing deadly pandemic. SEA 148 specifies that landlords may now use emergency possessory actions (evicting tenants in three days), not just for destroying property. In fact, reporting code violations is now a legitimate reason for a three-day eviction.
We now know that every new eviction spreads COVID-19 wherever it happens: in rural, suburban, or urban communities, wherever evicted families are forced to double up in others’ homes or sleep in overburdened congregate housing like homeless shelters. And due to holes in the CDC’s eviction moratorium, 900 Hoosier households are already being evicted each week.
In the long term, SEA 148 locks the full state into the lowest common denominator of housing standards and tenant protections. Starting today, the new law voids substantial portions of local ordinances enacted to reduce evictions, promote housing stability, and enable better enforcement of housing codes to improve housing conditions. It also replaces local anti-retaliation ordinances and codifies loopholes in anti-retaliation protections.
In addition to these damages to Hoosiers’ public health and tenant rights, the Coalition agrees with the 65 Indiana business and community leaders who wrote “overriding the governor’s veto of legislation overturning local ordinances on renter-landlord relations [undermines] reasonable housing close to employment centers [and keeps] more residents away from work and living in poverty.” With SEA 148 taking away tenant protections and employment opportunities throughout Indiana, it is our local economies and service providers who will bear the brunt, decreasing from their capacity to help Indiana recover from the pandemic and rebuild economic growth.
To remedy the negative impacts that will be felt by Hoosier renters as a result of this law, the Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition has developed a list of simple fixes that would address flaws in the new law regarding expedited evictions and loopholes in retaliatory protections and would allow those who slip through the cracks to regain stable housing.
“It is now on the General Assembly to address these issues before the end of this legislative session,” said Jessica Love, executive director of Prosperity Indiana and HHNC member.
“We are prepared to offer our recommendations for a more balanced law. The solutions are at the ready. Now it’s time to see leadership bring those solutions to the table.”