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People living in hotels, motels face lack of eviction protections during pandemic

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Indiana’s temporary halt on evictions and foreclosures remains in place until at least early May, but the order has not protected people living in transitional housing like extended stay hotels.

CBS4 has heard from people who are concerned that they will be kicked out of hotels and motels due to their job losses and inability to pay.

Brandon Beeler, director of Indiana Legal Services’ Housing Law Center, has been helping clients in situations like this and said so far, he’s been able to connect them with community resources for assistance paying bills.

“Many of them were folks who were just getting on their feet and staying at the hotels temporarily to move onto more stable housing, and unfortunately, they got caught in the middle of this pandemic,” Beeler said.

The governor’s order temporarily stopping evictions and foreclosures does not extend to hotels and motels, since residents do not own the property inside and are not under formal lease agreements.

However, Beeler argued that the governor’s stay-at-home order does classify hotels and motels as “homes” or “residences,” leaving open a possible legal argument that people should not be kicked out during the pandemic.

“We think it goes against the spirit of the executive order to put anyone out on the street during a global pandemic,” Beeler said.

Amy Nelson, executive director of the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana, said there is growing concern among housing advocates about what will happen to Hoosiers whose housing was already unstable once the governor’s orders expire.

“It’s raising a lot of new challenges combined into this horrible stew of so many different housing issues,” Nelson said.

For those living in hotels and motels, Beeler said the first step should be to speak to owners if you cannot pay on time, and see if you can work out a payment plan. He suggested that if they agree, you should get the agreement in writing, even if that is simply by email or text.

If you need help with housing at this time, you can call 211 to be connected to services or apply for legal help from Indiana Legal Services. People living in Marion County can also call the city’s housing hotline at 317-327-2228.

You can also find more information and resources regarding evictions and foreclosures from the state of Indiana by clicking here.

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