By Eli Jones and Gavin Greer
With the 2022 Midterm Elections coming up in November, voters are looking into candidates to learn about their proposals to improve the quality of life in their communities. This story looks at the affordable housing policies of the candidates running for State Representative in Allen County.
Democrat Kyle R. Miller, who is competing with Republican Davyd Jones to fill the position of State Rep. David Abbott (R-District 82), believes loan and rent assistances should be available to a larger segment of the population. He proposes increasing the income threshold to qualify for Indiana’s down payment assistance program.
Miller also suggests that banks should help fund development in downtown areas, and that the government should partner with financial and lending institutions for incentives to build in overlooked areas such as southeast Fort Wayne.
“One of the things we would want to watch out for is making sure that there is not a short-term solution to a long-term problem. It’s great to get someone into an apartment or a condo, affordable housing, but if that benefit is only good for three or four months, that’s only going to help very little,” Miller said.
Miller suggests that lenders should weigh more than just credit history when approving mortgages, but rather also look at other things such as bill and rent history.
“I think that the biggest issue that we are going to have is trying to figure out how to implement some of these things and solve some of the ‘why’s’ as to why we are having these issues,” he said. “It’s going to take little things, rather than just solving it in one bill or one fell swoop.”
Davyd Jones’ campaign website did not include his position on affordable housing, and he could not be reached for comment.
‘Housing should be for people, not companies’
Abby Norden, an Independent candidate running against incumbent State Rep. Martin Carbaugh (R-District 81), blames market conditions for the lack of affordable housing in her district.
“We have outside companies, or individual investors coming into our city and buying up as many properties as possible,” Norden said. “Housing should be for people, not for companies, and if we continue to let a select few own the housing market, we will continue to see price gouging in the housing and rental markets.”
Norden believes that a way to help alleviate this problem in the area would be by improving residents’ salaries and regulating rent increases.
“I will work with the communities who need housing the most to help them meet their needs while simultaneously working with legislatures to raise the minimum wage and cap rental prices at affordable rates,” Norden said on her plans to combat the shortages.
Carbaugh’s campaign did not send any information on his housing proposals upon request. In the past, he has opposed legislation related to affordable housing. Earlier this year, Carbaugh refused to hear House Bill 1326, which would have addressed discrimination in home appraisals and lending. Due to his refusal, the bill died after missing the House’s deadline.
In 2018, he authored House Bill 1319, which if passed would have created a loan program with three-to-12-month loans of $605 to $1,500 with annual percentage rates up to 222%. This 222% APR is just about triple of what Indiana law classified as criminal loansharking. If the bill had passed, it could have made paying back housing loans difficult for many Indiana homebuyers.
Housing Task Force
House Minority Leader Phil GiaQuinta (D-District 80) currently does not have a public statement on affordable housing on his campaign website, and his press team did not give any information in response to our inquiry.
However, he is a member of the Housing Task Force that was created through House Bill 1306 earlier this year. As a member of this force, GiaQuinta and other representatives are working to learn the best strategies in combating shortages in affordable housing.
Another goal of this task force is to end discrimination against homeowners who are having their homes appraised. To see how to best design plans in Allen County and Indiana as a whole, the task force is looking at plans from other states.
Incumbents Christopher Judy (R-District 83), Bob Morris (R-District 84) and Dave Heine (R-District 85), who are all running unopposed, do not have any positions listed on their campaign websites to address housing affordability. Their press teams didn’t respond to messages.