Renters are facing eviction notices, what you need to know if you need assistance
ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. -- St. Joseph County is seeing an uptick in eviction notices as tenants struggle to find stable housing.
Indiana State Representative Maureen Bauer speaks upon the status of this crisis, now that the eviction moratorium has ended.
Bauer says South Bend and the state of Indiana has already been dealing with an eviction crisis before COVID-19.
Now, the pandemic has made it even harder for families to make enough money to cover rent and stay in their homes.
“We recognized the need for stable housing and we do know that Indiana has a shortage of affordable housing. We have a large number of people that are extremely low-income spending half or more of their income on monthly rent, Bauer said.
In just 19 days from August 1 to August 19th, 68 eviction notices were filed in St. Joseph county courts in 2021.
Many renters are forced out of their homes because they aren't aware of their legal rights.
“It’s important that renters do know their rights. There are many organizations that want to help tenants and renters in particular. Many may be eligible for the millions of dollars of emergency assistance that the state was given,” Bauer said.
Bauer says government leaders have recognized the importance of protecting renters and that failing them would put more people in harm’s way by increasing the public health crisis.
They are working to provide families with stable housing through free assistance programs and grants to decrease evictions and help create a good relationship between landlords and renters.
She says moving forward it’s now up to state and local officials to address these housing needs in their communities.
And, a number of local governments and organizations are stepping in to help the growing number of people who are facing eviction.
Indiana Legal Services is one of them.
They are providing free statewide legal assistance to low-income households who qualify and educating people about their legal rights as a tenant.
Another program available to qualifying tenants is the St. Joseph County Emergency Rental Assistance Program where eligible tenants can receive rental assistance for up to 12 months.
Another way locals can find out more about these services is by dialing 2-1-1.
“I think everyone looks forward to going home at night. Everyone wants a roof over their heads. We have to understand that that is a basic need. It isn’t a privilege,” Bauer said.