Three Indiana cities have ranked top 20 for home evictions, with Fort Wayne ranking 13th. That data comes from the Eviction Lab, a nationwide database established by “Evicted” author and researcher Matthew Desmond.
Indianapolis ranked 14th and South Bend ranked 18th on the list.
According to the data, more than 3,049 people were evicted from their home in Fort Wayne in 2016. That’s 8.3 household evictions per day and a renter home eviction rate of 7.39% a year.
“I think that signaled a problem that we need to look at homelessness and eviction, which are very destabilizing events for families and so we clearly have some work to do,” said Erin Macey, policy analyst with Indiana Institute for Working Families.
She shared that 40.9% of people in Allen County were cost-burdened in 2016, meaning at least 30% of their household income goes towards rent.
“When you are devoting that much of your household income to rent it can be really hard to keep up.,” she said.
Local low-income housing advocates such as Steve Hoffman, CEO of Brightpoint, believe it’s low incomes and unaffordable housing that are the problems that lead to eviction. He said it is not irresponsibility. Brightpoint helps communities, families, and individuals remove the causes and conditions of poverty by providing resources, helping people gain access to opportunities, and teaching them skills.
“There’s a stereotype that these folks are lazy, that they don’t care, that they’re not trying and that’s completely false,” he said. “There are a very small percentage that fit that bill, but most of who we work with are really working hard on trying to raise the kids. They’ve got all the pressures in the world on them to try to manage all of the bills and expenses and make it each month and that’s tough.”
Kathleen Lara, policy director for Prosperity Indiana reports that in order to secure a two-bedroom apartment in Allen County and not be cost-burdened, you’d need to earn at least $13.29 an hour. She said minimum wage does not cut it.
“We need increased living wage jobs,” she said. “People are working two and three minimum wage jobs just to make ends meet. That brings in a whole host of other issues such as child care and all kinds of obstacles. There needs to be a better conversation about bringing in living wage jobs and expanding affordable housing by state.”
Lara explained that to expand affordable housing stock, the state needs to acquire robust resources at the federal and state level. This includes tax credits, financing and a variety of programs that help to create affordable housing opportunities that are responsive to community needs.
As far as better wages, she encourages Indiana employers to work with their city governments and non-profits to develop living wages. She says they should invest workforce development training for their employees. She adds that communities should also offer skills and job training to match employer needs.
To see the Eviction Lab data for yourself, visit their website.