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Indiana Black caucus leader disappointed by lack of GOP support for housing issues in 2024 session

Earl Harris, Junior sits on the House floor.
Lauren Chapman
IPB News
Rep. Earl Harris Jr. (D-East Chicago) is the chair of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus.

The head of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus said he’s disappointed Republicans ignored the caucus priority bills on housing this session.

But Rep. Earl Harris Jr. (D-East Chicago) also said he and his colleagues are playing the long game on trying to improve access to affordable housing for Hoosiers.

The Black caucus’s focus on housing issues included bills to create a down payment assistance fund, prohibit foreclosures based on medical debt, and ban discrimination in housing appraisals.

None of them even got a hearing.

Republicans note that they passed major bills last year on housing. That includes a $75 million loan fund to help pay for local housing infrastructure costs, aimed at bringing down the price of new homes.

Harris said if Republicans think they took care of the problem, they’re wrong.

“Clearly, the fact that everyone’s still talking about housing being an issue means it’s still an issue and there’s still work to be done,” Harris said.

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Harris said he hopes that next year’s long, budget-writing session will help more Black caucus housing priorities advance.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.