July 29, 2021

Program Aims To Connect Tenants With Legal Counsel

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett (WFYI)

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett (WFYI)

There’s a new program to help Indianapolis residents facing eviction. It comes ahead of the expected expiration of the federal eviction moratorium on July 31.

The Tenant Advocate Project provides legal counsel to people arriving in small claims court for eviction proceedings. Officials say even with the moratorium in place, hundreds of evictions are currently being filed every week.

Lawrence Township Small Claims Court Judge Kimberly Bacon said the new project will help tenants come to agreements with landlords.

“That includes payment arrangements or even voluntary move outs so that they are able to control where they will go and how they will find housing if they still have to move,” Bacon said.

Bacon said an agreement is much more likely when both parties have representation.  Lawrence and Wayne Townships are piloting the effort with plans to expand to all nine Marion County townships.

Indianapolis City-County Council President Vop Osili said this and other programs aim to level the playing field.

“What they are intended to do, is simply to give people unfamiliar with legal rights and processes a fair shake,” Osili said.

Osili said a recent study indicates an estimated 15 percent of Marion County residents are behind on rent.

Other tools available for residents include the tenant information hotline, additional legal assistance and the rental assistance program.

Since the pandemic, Indianapolis has provided $50 million in rent to 22,000 households.

Indiana Legal Services, Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic, and the Indianapolis Legal Aid Society are partnering with the city on the project.

Contact WFYI city government and policy reporter Jill Sheridan at jsheridan@wfyi.org. Follow on Twitter: @JillASheridan.

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