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Indianapolis is becoming a city where affordable, quality housing is scarce. Increasingly more low income and working poor families are forced to live in substandard and lower quality apartments and houses and pay ever increasing, difficult to pay rents.  The Federal Section 8 program, run by the Indianapolis Housing Agency and overseen by the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is supposed to provide opportunities for low income and working poor families to be able to find quality housing with the government paying a significant part of the rental costs.  But a survey released Veteran’s Day found that most Indianapolis landlords seem to be openly rejecting potential renters who hold Section 8 vouchers.  On Afternoons with Amos, Any Nelson, Executive Director of the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana (FHCCI) talked about her organization’s report that revealed high refusal rates for Indianapolis residents seeking housing with housing choice (formerly called Section 8) vouchers. FHCCI is a private, non-profit fair housing organization. Its mission is to ensure equal housing opportunities by eliminating housing discrimination through advocacy, enforcement, education and outreach. FHCCI conducted a “Fair Housing Rental Testing Audit” to measure any refusal rates for home seekers using a housing choice voucher in Indianapolis/Marion County. This was the first time such an audit had been conducted in Indiana. The audit evaluated the scope of this currently lawful form of housing discrimination and its impact on housing choice.

amy nelson

Amy Nelson, FHCCI, Exec Dir

Speaking on Afternoons with Amos and with listeners, Amy Nelson said that the bulk of “Those using housing choice vouchers are persons who are low-income and often at significant risk of homelessness. The fact that they are shut out of so many neighborhoods, due to the very voucher which is in place to give them more housing options, is disheartening.” FHCCI conducted a total of 51 tests for the audit focusing on housing providers in Marion County. FHCCI’s tests showed that those using vouchers were denied 82% of the time. In areas that are predominantly white, home seekers with vouchers were denied 90% of the time. Nelson told listeners that rates of refusal are alarming. They impact the opportunity of low income and working poor families to find affordable, safe, high-quality housing in the neighborhoods of their choice. Nelson told Afternoons with Amos listeners that “At the 90% refusal rate, a Section 8 voucher holder would need to make 10 calls before finding a housing provider willing to accept their voucher in majority white areas.” Making the search for quality housing daunting, extremely time consuming and frustrating.” Click the Link to Read FHCCI’s Full Report on Refusals of Section 8 Vouchers in Indianapolis.  Fair Housing Center Report On Section 8 Denial Rates in Indy   Click the Media Player to Hear the Afternoons with Amos Interview On High Refusal Rates for Section 8 With Amy Nelson of FHCCI. Runs 37 Minutes ©2014 WTLC/Radio One.