A Note on Affordable Housing in Bloomington

Bloomington, Indiana rooftops

I don't need an apartment for myself, but I need one for another family. I'm helping make inquiry calls. It's November in Bloomington. Not the easiest time to find any vacancies, much less something affordable. Call after call-nothing is available now. I find one available and inwardly cheer. We apply. We are rejected– my client has no credit history. Good credit is required and the management company cannot bend their procedures. I keep trying. I find one available in February. Once again, the lack of credit history eliminates this possibility. I find an available place that will accept their background check, but the rent is $400 more than the maximum we thought was affordable for this family. It's not feasible. I find a possibility, but it is hard to connect with the agency. I'm concerned it may end up being a predatory landlord situation. I'm reluctant, but I'm running out of options. The family is temporarily housed and needs stability. I cannot count the number of calls I have made, the number of times I have visited rental websites, the number of hours I have spent on this project.

Housing in Bloomington is hard to find. It's expensive. Advance planning is required. Most rental agencies are large corporations not able to compromise on policy. There are predatory landlords and unsafe living conditions. Student rentals or single person options are easier to find, but options that work for families– for parents and their school age children, are more limited. Options ready for move in between June-August are plentiful. Anything outside that time frame is precious. There are no easy answers that will solve the housing issue, but there are some things that could help. Reconsidering zoning could encourage home owners to build Accessory Dwelling Units that would allow a small family or an aging relative space to live within a suburban neighborhood, thereby expanding housing options. Offering incentives to management companies that move some of their lease schedules away from June-August start and end dates could expand possibilities to people who move into Bloomington unrelated to the Indiana University school calendar. Offering incentives to smaller companies or individual entrepreneurs that might be able to give more personal service to potential tenants could help people who are just getting started. Housing is not a one-size fits all endeavor and possible solutions need to reflect that complexity.