The Journal Gazette
Thursday, July 30, 2020 1:00 am


Housing crisis

Press for aid increasing as deadlines loom

Early in July, phones at the Adams Township Trustee's office began ringing with calls from residents in search of housing assistance. With the statewide moratorium on evictions originally set to expire Friday, the calls weren't unexpected.

“We literally had been planning for this,” Trustee Denita Washington said. “I kept telling people: 'The rush is coming.' Sure enough, it was like clockwork. People are in a panic about their bills.”

Washington said some who received relief payments from the federal government did not save it for rent or mortgage payments.

“Some – not all – did not manage it well,” she said. “There were some that did, but they were just overwhelmed. Twelve-hundred dollars was not nearly enough to maintain what they had. But they have been good about reaching out for other resources.”

Township trustee offices are a first responder for poor relief. Washington said her office has assisted Adams Township residents with medicine costs, fresh fruit and vegetables, and paper products. The office worked with Wellspring Interfaith Social Services for a food distribution.

Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Wednesday the eviction moratorium will be extended to Aug. 14. When it expires, more than 40% of renters are at risk of eviction, according to an estimate by Stout Risius Ross, a global advisory firm. It estimates the state will see 212,000 eviction filings over the next four months.

Mortgage foreclosures also are on the horizon. A federal moratorium extension is in effect through Aug. 31 for FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac-backed mortgages.

Washington said she would like to see the moratorium extension paired with education.

“When they are coming to places like United Way and they are being given this money, they also need to be given some lessons on necessities, priorities,” she said. “Some who come from this background don't have that.”

Township trustees, the city of Fort Wayne and Brightpoint, northeast Indiana's community action agency, are teaming up to provide information to those at risk of eviction. A lawsuit filed this week by a group of landlords challenges Holcomb's authority to set the moratorium and urges the courts to decide who has the ability to pay and who doesn't.

For those who don't, there are resources available. Those facing eviction need to reach out immediately for help.

To Learn More

The city of Fort Wayne's Office of Housing & Neighborhood Services will host a Facebook Live discussion at 6 p.m. today, @FWNeighborhoods. Kelly Lundberg, director of the office, will be joined by Adams Township Trustee Denita Washington; Pam Brookshire of Brightpoint; and Andrew Thomas of Indiana Legal Services. 

They will provide information on programs available to residents facing eviction or foreclosure.

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