Hoosiers from across the state gathered at the Indiana Statehouse Thursday to demand legislation to protect tenants. Organizers created Tenants Day of Action to give renters a way for their voices to be heard.
Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, Prosperity Indiana policy director Andrew Bradley said he estimates more than 1 in 10 Hoosier households have had an eviction filed against them.
"That is way too many people and no wonder we have so many folks here today who are telling us that there's not enough stable housing in Indiana," said Bradley.
Jessica Savage, a Columbus resident, shared her personal story of being a tenant. For the past three years she’s had to deal with a bug infestation in her home. Two weeks ago her landlord gave her an eviction notice – even though she had been paying her rent on time.
Savage said the experience has been traumatizing for her and her son.
"It's not OK for our children and our families to be put through this," said Savage. "It's too easy for landlords to just bully you, intimidate you and pull the rug right out from underneath your feet. Especially after all the hard work that you put into it. We need our legislators to take action now."
House advocates pointed to three state Senate bills – SB 230, SB 233, and SB 385 – as legislation that addresses tenants rights and protections and they want to see passed. None of the bills have received a committee hearing with the deadline next week.
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Dee Ross is the founder of the Ross Foundation, which oversees the Indianapolis Tenants Rights Union. He said getting tenants a platform to share their stories is moving the needle forward in an effort to make change.
"That's why we're here today," said Ross. "To show solidarity, in urban and rural areas, to let legislators know that we will not go another year without being heard. And moving forward, we will come back over and over and over, every year, until they start to listen to us."
Ross said he hopes to set up more tenants unions throughout each county in the state to help address housing violations and injustices.
Organizers said they plan to host the Tenants Day of Action every year going forward to get lawmakers to listen and pass legislation that protects renters in the state.