FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 25, 2022
CONTACT: Hale Crumley | 317-222-1221 ext. 406 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition Releases Court Watcher’s Toolkit: Evictions in Indiana
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – As of July 2022, an estimated 110,000 Hoosier households and 111,000 children in those homes are behind on rent and at risk of eviction, with few tenant rights in place to protect them, and similarly scarce rental assistance programs to help them keep their heads above water. Numbers like this tell a compelling story, but grassroots advocates in Indiana are going to the courts to bear witness to the eviction crisis in real time.
To bring additional light and attention to Indiana’s ongoing eviction crisis, the Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition is pleased to announce the release of their Court Watcher’s Toolkit: Evictions in Indiana, a toolkit that enables anyone, including faith groups, community associations, or concerned individuals to become court watchers and see the evictions crisis for themselves. This simple, 5-page toolkit does not require a background in law to use, and can be applied to any small claims court in the state. The toolkit includes a cover page, a fact sheet that explains the purpose and importance of court watching, an information page that walks watchers through the basics of attending eviction hearings, a page with tenant information and resources and instructions for watchers to submit their findings, and a 2-page form for physical notetaking.
The toolkit is available on HousingforHoosiers.org, the online home of the Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition, and is also designed for home printing. Information and stories collected while court watching can be shared on the site and will help the Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition raise awareness about the eviction crisis and advocate for strengthened tenant rights and sustained resources for rental assistance and eviction diversion programs.
Court-watching helps address the fact that we cannot easily see the private side of what it’s like for fellow Hoosiers to be affected by evictions and unstable housing, such as experiences with ‘couch surfing’, sleeping in their car, and trying to secure a spot in the local shelter. We also cannot easily see the long-term impact evictions have on families, such as on educational and health outcomes for children, and difficulties securing new jobs and places to live. We can, however, be present and observe the moment that our neighbors’ housing instability becomes a crisis: when they are evicted. In that way, court watching not only benefits the court watcher’s understanding of the issue, but can help improve individual and systemic eviction outcomes.
“Hoosier families who rent their homes have long been at a huge disadvantage when they go to a court where the landlord has a lawyer and they don’t, and the judge may seem more interested in moving cases along than making sure their rights are protected. But sunshine is the best disinfectant,” says Fran Quigley, Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Health and Human Rights Clinic at the IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law, and Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition Steering Committee member. “That means the minute a watcher walks in the door of the courtroom, tenants immediately have a much better chance of being treated fairly.”
The Court Watcher’s Toolkit: Evictions in Indiana was created by Prosperity Indiana on behalf of the Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition with the help of multiple legal experts, assistance from Texas Housers and members of the ERASE Project cohort, and inspiration from the Meridian Street United Methodist Church Housing Justice Task Force in Indianapolis. The toolkit will debut as part of the Housing Advocacy Summit: Evictions and Court Watching event on Sunday, August 28, 2022.
See the Court-Watcher’s Toolkit: Evictions in Indiana, submit findings, and share stories at http://housing4hoosiers.org/court-watchers-toolkit/.
About the Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition:
Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition (HHNC) was formed by members of Indiana’s housing security advocacy community in April 2020 to support advocacy and education related to housing and homelessness prevention in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Staffed by Prosperity Indiana through advocacy and coalition building grants from the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the Central Indiana Community Foundation, HHNC convenes partners from across Indiana to advocate for immediate, medium- and long-term housing stability policy solutions and conduct education and research to achieve federal, state, and local policies for an equitable response and recovery to the pandemic and beyond.
The HHNC Steering Committee is comprised of members from AARP Indiana, the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention & Prevention (CHIP), Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana, Family Promise of Greater Indianapolis, Hoosier Action, Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Indiana Community Action Poverty Institute – INCAA, Indiana University McKinney School of Law, Prosperity Indiana, The Ross Foundation, and United Way of Central Indiana.