Indiana Tenants Rally at Statehouse for Housing Advocacy Day

The Indiana Tenants Association held its third annual Housing Advocacy Day on January 29. Tenants from across Indiana came together at the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis to meet with their legislators, tell their stories of housing instability, and advocate for stronger tenant protections. Advocates also called for the passage of the bipartisan Senate Bill 243, introduced by Senator Andrea Hunley (D-Indianapolis) and Senator Greg Walker (R-Columbus). Advocates also urged policymakers to strengthen tenant protections by enacting House Bill 1195, introduced by Representative Robin Shackleford (D-98). The bill would create a right-to-counsel eviction task force and establish funding to expand access to legal counsel for tenants in eviction proceedings.

Senate Bill 243 was designed to strengthen the enforcement of existing housing-related health and safety laws so that rental units that fail inspection cannot be re-rented until health and safety issues are addressed. Advocates supporting Senate Bill 243 drew attention to a recent, tragic house fire in South Bend, Indiana, that caused several deaths, claiming the house had been re-rented even after failing several inspections. As written, Senate Bill 243 applied only to landlords in Marion County (where Indianapolis is located), but advocates cited the fire in their push for the bill to be expanded in ways that would support renters statewide.

Even amid such efforts, Senate Bill 243 died in committee on January 31. Still, advocates celebrated their other successes during Housing Advocacy Day. “During the recent third annual Housing Advocacy Day, our Indiana Tenant Association united tenants across rural to urban communities, heard their impactful stories, and advocated for the Right to Counsel, rent escrow rights, and a cap on rent hikes,” said Dee Ross, founder of Housing is a Human Right. “This marks a significant step in uniting the voices of Hoosier tenants. The Indiana Tenants Association, functioning as a statewide coalition, is dedicated to safeguarding and advancing the rights of Indiana tenants for secure, decent, and affordable housing.”