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Senate committee fails to advance bill to allow better housing code enforcement in Marion County

In a screenshot from a livestream of a committee hearing, Stephanie Zhang speaks into a microphone at a lectern. Zhang is an Asian American woman, with dark hair, wearing a dark jacket over a light blue shirt.
Screenshot of
Hoosier Action Statewide Housing Community Coordinator Stephanie Zhang testified in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Jan. 31, 2024 about a housing bill.

A bill to close a loophole that prevents Marion County from enforcing code violations against some landlords failed to pass a Senate committee Wednesday.

Even one of the senators who voted for SB 243, Sen. Mike Gaskill (R-Pendleton), expressed serious reservations with it. Gaskill, a landlord, argued that no one speaks up for landlords.

Stephanie Zhang is the statewide housing community organizer for Hoosier Action. She said she agrees with Gaskill that there are good renters and bad renters, and good landlords and bad landlords. But she said the current system is set up to protect bad landlords from consequences.

“To me, it says that the people that we elect to represent us in Indiana continue to fail to even move the needle forward an inch to help Hoosier renters stay in safe, quality homes,” Zhang said.

READ MORE: How do I follow Indiana’s legislative session? Here’s your guide to demystify the process

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Prosperity Indiana Policy Director Andrew Bradley said tenants are losing health and wealth as the General Assembly continues to avoid addressing the state’s housing stability issue.

He pointed to a recent tragedy in South Bend, where reports suggest a fire that killed six children may have been the result of a unit that was re-rented despite failing housing and safety standards.

“We can’t afford to wait a day longer,” Bradley said. “But it looks like we’re going to.”

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.