March 30, 2023

Indianapolis Jewish community holds Passover Seder advocating for affordable housing

Rabbi Aaron Spiegel discusses affordable housing during Thursday’s Seder  - WBAA News/Ben Thorp

Rabbi Aaron Spiegel discusses affordable housing during Thursday’s Seder

WBAA News/Ben Thorp

Members of Indianapolis’ Jewish community held an advocacy Seder Wednesday to educate community members about the affordable housing crisis in the city.

The event, hosted by Rabbis Aaron Spiegel and Brett Krichiver, featured lawmakers and housing advocates making familiar calls for tenant aid ahead of next week’s start to Passover.

Spiegel said housing has been an important issue he wanted to highlight for the broader community.

“This is very common in the Jewish community – let’s meld Jewish tradition with something that we care about,” he said.

The Passover Seder mixed education and advocacy with prayers and songs expressing hope for a better world.

Siane Anderson is a tenant who said she was evicted after coming forward about the bad conditions of her apartment complex. She has been a regular at Statehouse events advocating for a tenant protections bill that was ultimately sent to a summer study committee.

“To the tenants who may have gone through this: know you are not alone,” she said, and teared up. “We are building a movement that will allow us to rise from this and hold landlords and the legislators accountable. They failed us.”

Sen. Fady Qaddoura (D-Indianapolis) authored the Senate bill aimed at allowing tenants to put their rent into escrow until landlords addressed critical issues, such as a lack of electricity, heat, or water. He said his bill was killed by the Indiana Apartment Association.

When Qaddoura reached out to the group to discuss problems they had with the legislation, he said the group never responded.

“They forgot that we have voices to speak,” he said. “They forgot that the good people of Indiana will not tolerate injustice.”

Qaddoura’s bill is likely to go to a summer study committee. A similar bill the lawmaker introduced last year was also sent to a summer committee.

Attendees received a booklet with a long list of links to housing and faith based organizations across the city. At the end of the evening, Spiegel and Krichiver encouraged everyone to become engaged in advocating for tenants.

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