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Report: Indiana ranks low in affordable, available housing units

Housing advocates stand at the Indiana Statehouse in front of a podium and a blue curtain
Violet Comber-Wilen
IPB News
Housing advocates and organizations gathered Thursday to discuss the affordable housing report and call on the governor to come up with solutions.

A new report shows Indiana has only 34 affordable and available rental units for every 100 extremely low-income households in the state. The report, The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes, also shows that nearly 26 percent of renter households are extremely low-income.

Housing advocates and organizations gathered Thursday to discuss the report and call on the governor to come up with solutions.

Andrew Bradley is the policy director for Prosperity Indiana. He said the data provided in this report is contrary to the belief that Indiana is an affordable place to live.

“Indiana is failing to supply safe, healthy and affordable places for the most vulnerable Hoosiers to live,” he said.

Bradley said he is appreciative of the government’s efforts to help with these issues, but that more must be done. He said one example was a housing task force created in 2022 by the Indiana General Assembly.

“And while we thank them for allowing the Housing Hoosier Needs Coalition a seat at the table, that task force is not resulting in legislation to reduce the gap in affordable housing,” he said.

Prosperity Indiana’s executive director Aspen Clemons said the report also reveals that more than 70 percent of Hoosiers are severely cost-burdened by housing, meaning they spend more than half of their income on it.

“That’s less than 50 percent of their income to spend on other basic life necessities including food, health care, transportation, child care – the things that they need to be able to contribute to our workforce and be productive community citizens,” she said.

READ MORE: Indiana losing ground to average Midwesterners in real per capita personal income

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Clemons said this affects Hoosiers all over the state.

“Our data is based by county. And so what that tells us is that this is not just an Indianapolis and or urban issue,” she said. “It's a rural, suburban and urban issue alike.”

Clemons adds these housing troubles disproportionately affect aging, Black and Brown and Latinx Hooiser populations.

Kim Irwin is the executive director of Health by Design, an organization advocating for health equity in Indiana. She said affordable housing needs to be prioritized, as it affects all aspects of life.

“The evidence is very clear that the most important things tied to how well we live and how long we live across our lifespan are things like housing, like transportation, the neighborhoods in which we live,” Irwin said.

Chelsea Haring-Cozzi is the executive director of the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention in Indianapolis. She said addressing affordable housing issues can directly benefit people experiencing homelessness and the communities around them.

Homelessness significantly impacts health outcomes, exacerbates existing health conditions and poses safety risks,” Haring-Cozzi said. “Efforts to address homelessness should prioritize access to safe and habitable living conditions, which can in turn positively impact health, safety and well-being.”

Prosperity Indiana and other housing advocacy groups called on Gov. Eric Holcomb to appoint a Commission on Housing Safety, Stability and Affordability to address these concerns and come up with practical solutions.

“By bringing together representatives of state administration agencies, courts, local governments, along with legislators, and other stakeholders that are tackling the housing crisis on the ground, we believe the Commission on Housing Safety, Stability and Affordability could accomplish many things,” Bradley said.

Advocates said they hope for a more holistic and effective approach in addressing housing issues through this commission.

Violet is our daily news reporter. Contact her at vcomberwilen@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @ComberWilen.