Local that Works

Local that Works spotlights innovative and replicable content, engagement and revenue initiatives at public radio and TV stations and nonprofit and digital news organizations in the U.S. LTW includes an annual contest and a database (below). LTW produces webinars that offer insights into projects and organizations that are reshaping local civic journalism.

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Tenants’ Rights Workshops in Eviction Wave

Side Effects Public Media/Indiana Public Broadcasting
Public Radio
Brittani Howell
[email protected]

When community partners raised the alarm of an impending evictions crisis, we partnered with the nonpartisan legal group Indiana Legal Services to educate renters about their rights as tenants and their recourses if they thought those rights were being violated. We also instructed them in how to find and apply for emergency rental assistance. Since October 2021, we have done five of these workshops: four in-person events, held in accessible community locations like libraries, churches and education facilities; and one online version to accommodate people with transportation difficulties. We market heavily to community service organizations near the event site, including but not limited to churches, schools, coffee shops, food pantries, and any other organization that might serve as a natural gathering place or an active provider of assistance.

These events always include an overview of a tenant’s rights and a summary of available resources. Our partners at ILS make time to accommodate tenants’ questions during and after each event. Tenants are able to take “resource packs” full of helpful handouts and eviction expungement paperwork with them when they leave. Additionally, because we know people in need of housing assistance may be dealing with other financial difficulties, we make sure some kind of refreshment–usually boxed lunches from Panera–is available for our attendees.

To date, our workshops have served more than 120 people, including representatives from nearly 30 community organizations. We have also helped with supplemental programs, including a “Data and Drafts” community conversation with The Polis Center about available housing in Indianapolis. Our organizations have longstanding partnerships with The Polis Center, so we connected them with our partners at ILS, who were able to attend the event and provide critical context and nuance to the data presented in the talk.

Survey respondents and partners have had overwhelmingly positive reactions to the events. Nearly 90 percent of survey respondents indicated the presentation had been helpful and answered the questions they had as they came in. Often Indiana Legal Services staff were able to follow up with attendees in the following days when they had specific questions and concerns. ILS shared, “Attendees reached out to us directly with follow up questions and for additional services. From these conversations, we also connected individuals to our intake process for legal services provided to ILS clients. Even months later, people have reached out as new issues come up.”