INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – There is an urgent need to get approved rental aid in Indianapolis, and some people facing eviction in the city say the process is taking too long.
The city of Indianapolis told I-Team 8 that it has a lot of money for rental assistance and has even extended some programs. I-Team 8 receives emails every day from people who are struggling to access this money.
Two women, Hassie Holmes and Kesha Pitts, say they had difficulty accessing the IndyRent website.
“There are people like me who have been holding on for so long,” Kolmes said. “We are heading into the cold winter months. We are very close to the holidays and I have barely been back to work for a few months, so that does not give you enough time. I can’t refund this right away.
Holmes and Pitts say the website is difficult to navigate and almost impossible to get answers over the phone. And email responses take even longer. Pitts re-requested rental assistance and received an email code that did not work.
Emails with the code sent by IndyRent are unanswered emails, which means she had to call for help. She was put on hold for hours, and when someone finally answered her call, it resulted in more confusion and more frustration. However, someone from IndyRent called her after I-Team 8 contacted the city on Tuesday.
“When she called today she asked me, ‘Yeah, uh, IT’s working on it,’” Pitts said. “Well, I said, ‘I wasn’t informed that IT was working on it. You know, I didn’t get an answer. And that’s when she went through everything step by step and it still didn’t work out.
After picking up the phone with IndyRent, there was still a problem with his access code.
“And the link was sent back to me again; always the same, ”Pitts said.
The access code still did not work. While I-Team 8 interviewed Pitts, the city called and said they were working to resolve their issues.
Holmes has been trying to navigate the IndyRent system for months. She received a month’s rent, but when she went to reapply, the website did not recognize her original claim number. So she has completed another request and is waiting for a confirmation email.
“And it’s very hard for me to step back and relax and wait for this email,” Holmes said. “They have made it impossible for people who find themselves in really difficult situations to reach anyone.”
Holmes was put on leave from her travel agency job in March 2020. Unemployment benefits kept her head above water until she could return to work earlier this year. She fell behind on her rent and set up a repayment program with her landlord. She – like Pitts – has spent hours on the phone waiting for help, help she isn’t sure will arrive.
“I called, I emailed, I didn’t get a response,” Holmes said.
The city sent a statement: “The IndyRents program continues to contact previous grantees to re-apply for additional funds. Chronological move in the order in which tenants applied.
The city will not discuss individual cases. However, I-Team 8 learns that the city is working to resolve any connection or communication issues with the two women.