MARY SCHUERMANN KUHLMAN
INDIANAPOLIS – A new analysis of eviction rates in Indiana’s largest county provides insight into how the problem might be better addressed across the state.
The data from the Indiana University Public Policy Institute’s Center for Research and Social Policy reveals that Marion County accounts for 40 percent of evictions in Indiana, but only 14 percent of the state’s population. Additionally, eviction and filing rates in Marion County and Indiana as a whole are higher than the overall U.S. rate.
Director of the center Dr. Breanca Merritt contended Indiana lacks tenant-friendly policies.
“That means that tenants have a more difficult time being able to justify getting out of a lease or navigating the environment in terms of the court system and how to deal with what happens if you get evicted and what can you do to prevent yourself from becoming evicted,” Merritt said.
Several state laws and local ordinances are on the books in Indiana governing evictions and landlord-tenant relationships. However, Merritt said Indiana remains one of eight states that do not protect tenants against landlord retaliation.
She said besides creating housing instability for both individuals and families, evictions have long-term financial ramifications.
“If someone gets evicted and that turns up on their credit score, over time it might prevent them being able to rent housing from other people,” Merritt said. “It affects their ability to apply for other forms of credit. It affects not just their ability to live in a house but to do other things, too.”
Merritt said further research is needed into the differences in eviction rates between urban and rural areas, disparities among people of color and women, and the problems with data collection.
“In addition to the data not always being there and informal evictions that happen kind of off the books, there’s a lot of information that we’re not capturing,” she said.
Recommendations to address eviction rates in the report include mandatory tenant and landlord education about renters’ rights, the use of mediation services before and during the eviction process, and more quality, affordable housing options for renters.