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Help available as moratorium ends for evictions, utility cut offs

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) -- A statewide moratorium on evictions and utility shut-offs is set to expire Friday, which could leave thousands of Hoosiers scrambling for help.

"It could have a huge impact, especially if folks have been challenged in the fact that they lost their jobs due to COVID-19," says the director of the Fort Wayne Housing Authority, George Guy.

Guy says he's seeing more and more clients seeking state rental assistance now that the moratorium on evictions is slated to end.

"Working with them and the landlord, and then there will be some assistance to fill the gaps in terms of what has happened, in terms of how it's impacting you," he says.

He says the funds go directly to the landlords, who he says he also feels for.

"You have landlords who have mortgages that you want to make sure that they're whole, as well. They assist in our economy, they assist some of these folks that are trying to make ends meet, as well, with the proper and adequate housing," Guy says.

Utility shut offs will resume after Friday, as well.

"We do expect a surge in evictions," Andrew Thomas says.

Thomas is a lawyer for Indiana Legal Services, which is partnering with the city and the Volunteer Lawyer program to coordinate help.

"This clinic provides assistance to tenants, to provide negotiations with their landlords, to provide legal advice, as well as representation at eviction hearings," he says.

He says clients tell him that it's more difficult than ever to find other housing -- something he says will have a very real trickle down effect.

"They're very likely to be in housing that is substandard. They're going to have a harder time finding a job, taking care of their family, and staying healthy. So it's absolutely in all of our interest to help these folks to stay in their homes," Thomas says.

If you need help with utility shut offs or rent, call the Fort Wayne Housing Authority at 260-267-9300, Indiana Legal Services at 260-424-9155, or 211.

Corinne Rose

Corinne Rose is a reporter for WPTA.

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