The Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition on Sunday announced its policy priorities for the 2023 legislative session.
Those priorities include addressing three key housing issues: habitability, supply and affordability.
Presenters began the event by outlining the problem: For Hoosiers earning less than $50,000 a year the state is short roughly 400,000 housing units. Among the lowest-income Hoosiers that number is closer to 135,000.
Andrew Bradley said one of the key issues facing the state is a supply of affordable housing. Bradley is with Prosperity Indiana and a member of the Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition.
“We agree that increasing the supply of affordable housing is really the underlying issue underneath all of this. We need a larger supply,” he said.
Part of that effort, according to Bradley, should include increasing the number of community-based organizations that utilize state and federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit programs.
But the Coalition is also concerned with habitability. Bradley said Indiana is one of just five states that doesn’t allow tenants to either deduct repair of a unit from their rent or place rent in an escrow until the issue is resolved.
“We want Indiana to catch up with those 45 other states that allow renters to put their rent into escrow,” he said.
Other policy recommendations include the creation of a Governor-appointed Indiana Commission on Housing & Homelessness to coordinate available resources. Bradley described a problem of various housing organizations being “siloed” in ways that has made it more difficult to address the state’s housing needs.
He said some of the lawmakers he’s spoken with have said the 2023 legislative session could be the “housing session.”
“I would say the fact that there is this ongoing Indiana Housing Task Force, and Senator Qaddoura is one of the four legislators that are part of that, I think there is a concerted effort to try and have legislation come out of that,” Bradley said.
State Sen. Fady Qaddoura (D-Indianapolis) attended the event and said there are several reasons lawmakers are looking to address the state’s housing needs during the next session.
“There are communities that are attracting employers and they can’t find housing units for them,” he said. “It became a workforce-related issue.”
Qaddoura said he is “cautiously optimist” that the Indiana Housing Task Force will present meaningful solutions to the state’s housing crisis in its recommendations to lawmakers.
“I will tell you that I’m not too confident that the proposed solutions will be comprehensive enough to deal with the crisis,” he said.
The final meeting of the Indiana Housing Task Force is scheduled for this week.