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Housing, utility protections available to Hoosiers during pandemic

Housing, utility protections available to Hoosiers during pandemic
Housing, utility protections available to Hoosiers during pandemic
State Rep. Stephen Bartels

Indiana’s temporary “stay-at-home” order is helping flatten the COVID-19 curve, but we also have over 146,000 Hoosiers in line for unemployment insurance. To help, Gov. Eric Holcomb has expanded resources available for those who are struggling financially and concerned about paying everyday expenses, like housing and utility bills.

Executive Order 20-06 outlines several assurances for homeowners and renters. Please note these orders do not excuse individuals from obligations to pay rent, mortgages or utility bills. But, at this time, new residential eviction proceedings or foreclosure actions may not be pursued and active eviction notices or foreclosure claims are to be rescinded for the duration of the public health emergency.

To work with state agencies, local public housing authorities have been asked to extend deadlines for housing assistance recipients and the required documentation needed for prove their eligibility. If you have received a notice of eviction or are subject to foreclosure during this time, it may have been done unlawfully. In this case, Hoosiers can file a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General.

Many Hoosiers are facing economic hardship because of this pandemic’s sudden arrival and subsequent disruption to our lives. Those struggling with paying utilities should contact their provider to discuss options rather than waiting until utility payments are past due.

Locally, Duke Energy is waiving late and returned payment fees, suspending fees for credit and debit card charges and foregoing service disconnections.

Duke Energy’s response follows Executive Order 20-05 where disconnecting essential utility services is prohibited for the duration of the state’s health emergency. Other companies such as Charter Communications, Comcast and AT&T are helping families access free or low-cost connectivity while schools are closed and students learn remotely. Visit the Indiana Dept. of Education’s website at www.doe.in.gov and click the “Remote Learning Resources” banner to learn more.

In times like these, scam artists use every opportunity to take advantage of consumers. If you receive a call from anyone alleging to be with your utility company and they are threatening to shut off your service, hang up immediately and call your provider. This applies to electric, natural gas, sewer, water, telecommunications and broadband services.

The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority offers great resources and information for those facing foreclosure, in need of immediate housing and seeking energy assistance. Visit the IHCDA online at in.gov/ihcda.

For the latest information about coronavirus and the state’s actions, visit coronavirus.in.gov.

Please continue to join me in prayer for the protection and healing of our community, state and nation. We are all in this together, and I’m confident we will bounce back stronger than before.

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