February 10, 2020
At age 21, Joan found herself trapped an abusive relationship – with two young children witnessing it all. She was relieved when her abusive boyfriend moved out but wasn’t yet prepared to meet the looming challenges of losing her family’s main source of income.
Joan quickly found that the escape from her unsafe relationship thrust her into a situation where she was struggling to meet her family’s basic needs.
A month behind on rent, she was threatened with eviction for no longer having the means to pay for her small apartment.
As a victim of domestic violence and trauma survivor, Joan was connected to the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS). DCS quickly prepared a referral to Indiana Legal Services’ (ILS) Eviction Avoidance Project (EAP).
The EAP works with community partners to provide free legal representation to struggling families facing eviction – a major cause of homelessness in Central Indiana.
“This project has a profound effect on individuals at risk of eviction in Indianapolis, who often have no help understanding of their rights in these situations,” Rebecca Geyer, attorney at Rebecca Geyer & Associates, said.
Joan needed an advocate to help her navigate through this complicated legal process – and that’s exactly what EAP was.
Through negotiation, her EAP attorney worked with the landlord and he agreed to drop the case if Joan paid in full the amount she owed back in rent, which wouldn’t have been possible without help from DCS.
All parties – the landlord, Joan, DCS, and EAP – worked together to secure a result that allowed Joan, a young single mom and her two children, to stay stably and safely housed.
“One of the things this project has done that surprised me, as well, is that it empowers our clients,” said Michael Hurst, ILS Eviction Avoidance Project Staff Attorney.
In June 2019, Indiana Legal Services received a $20,000 grant from United Way’s Basic Needs Fund to support their Eviction Avoidance Project.
Joan’s success story is only one of 69 others who were directly impacted by EAP in the last four months – with the bulk of their clients either having at least one child in their household, a chronic illness, or living with a disability.
Given these circumstances, resources to guarantee housing security are far too limited to meet the needs of low to moderate income households in Central Indiana – even with agencies like ILS.
“Residents with loss of income and serious health issues are faced with eviction far too often. Indianapolis has the second highest number of evictions in the country, only New York city is higher. ” Mary Jones, United Way’s Senior Director of Basic Needs, said. “When eviction occurs it negatively impacts their ability to obtain future housing and threatens their ability to work when relocating affects their transportation. ”
So how do you fit in? Join us on February 29th as we ELEVATE individuals and families out of poverty by ensuring all Central Indiana families have access to safe and affordable housing.