Home ownership continues to be the cornerstone of the American Dream and an important step for families attempting to climb the economic ladder. Fortunately, the overall housing market is nearing pre-recession levels, but there is still room for improvement. The most recent data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) shows that the Indianapolis sales housing market has stabilized but remains far from the peak sales seen in the early 2000s. Rental housing availability and demand has increased across the region, but according to HUD still has room to improve.
While it is encouraging to see the housing market conditions improve, a major factor in the ability to afford rent is wages. While recent statistics indicate that the average weekly wage in Marion County has increased steadily since 2010, hourly salaries still remain below the national average. That is why I supported legislation to raise the federal minimum wage to $12.00 an hour, ensuring that all Americans make a living wage and are able to afford the cost of housing.
The number of Hoosiers in Indianapolis in foreclosure has been declining since 2007. One of the best ways to prevent foreclosure is to utilize the federal and other programs that are available to provide assistance, including loan modifications and refinancing. If you need more information, please contact my office, or click here.
I am committed to doing everything in my power to keep Hoosiers in their homes and help hardworking, American families avoid losing their homes through default or foreclosures. This is why I continue to support the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) which provides help to struggling home owners facing foreclosure. Although the Program shutdown on December 31, 2016, 2.9 million applications have been processed to receive HAMP permanent mortgage modifications. Borrowers participating in the program have seen their mortgage payments reduced by 40 percent on average. In total, homeowners have reduced their mortgage burden by more than $5 billion through permanent HAMP modifications.
Moving forward, it is essential that we fully fund our nation's housing programs. If you are searching for information on housing, feel free to contact our office or visit the U.S. Department of the Treasury or Department of Housing and Urban Development’s website.
Hoosiers deserve to live in homes that meet their basic needs. Unfortunately, even as the housing market has improved, the availability of affordable housing for working families has become harder to find. This is expected to become even more difficult as the demand for affordable housing continues to grow and units are developed in higher average rent areas. I strongly support programs that provide housing assistance to Hoosiers in need. I also support public-private partnerships and community development projects that expand affordable housing for more families.
Rehabilitating Vacant Homes
Despite the existence of federal, state and local programs, some families are unable to avoid foreclosure. While these families move on to other housing options, they often leave abandoned houses in their wake. This is a particularly significant problem in Indianapolis. All too often, as homeowners abandon their property or are forced out, surrounding property values begin to decline, crime escalates and neighborhoods deteriorate. This threat to the health and safety of our neighborhoods must be addressed. To combat this problem, I supported legislation to provide grants and loans to enable states to purchase and rehabilitate vacant, foreclosed homes and convert them into affordable housing. I remain a strong supporter of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program which allows localities to reclaim abandoned homes in a way that can strengthen neighborhoods and communities. This program has benefited Indianapolis, which received $37 million in assistance to rebuild dilapidated homes and revitalize our neighborhoods and fight blight. I am committed to ensuring that any remaining funds will be used to help hardest hit communities.