By Jesselyn Bickley
INDIANAPOLIS – A first-term Democratic state lawmaker says he plans to push a series of neighborhood revitalization measures that would crack down on home abandoners, bad landlords and thieves.
State Rep. Justin Moed, D-Indianapolis, unveiled a set of bills on Friday that he said he will introduce during the General Assembly’s four-month, budget-writing session that kicks off Monday.
He said he wants to create a “neighborhood revitalization fund” that would provide municipal governments low-interest loans in order to renovate abandoned homes. He said it’s an issue that hits both “urban and rural areas across the state.”
It’s an idea similar to what a coalition of Indiana mayors said they’d like to see the General Assembly offer. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg said cities often lack the funding to address a problem that can spread quickly.
Moed also plans to propose a “negligent landlord registry,” which he said would make it easier for city officials and law enforcement to identify rental areas that need extra attention.
Moed said he also wants to crack down on thefts that leave cars and air conditioning units useless by placing limits on who can sell key parts of those items for scraps.
He said only those who work in the automobile and construction industries should be able to scrap cars’ catalytic converters and coils from HVAC units. He said in order to scrap entire cars, Hoosiers should have to show the car’s title to prove they own it.
“This is an important step forward in deterring people from stealing these metals from our homes and cars,” Moed said. He said the proposals stem from his time knocking on doors during the 2012 campaign, starting in March.
“You’ve got to have a plan to get things done,” Moed said.
Rob Uppencamp, head of the Bates-Hendricks Neighborhood Association, said he backs Moed’s proposals and called abandoned housing a major issue that lawmakers should address.
He also said HVAC coils being stolen from air conditioning units has led to sweltering heat in homes and churches.
“Every single bill he’s proposing is exactly what we’re needing,” Uppencamp said.
Moed, whose party has only 31 of the House’s 100 seats, said he hopes his proposals will advance because they aren’t partisan in nature.
“I am willing to work with anyone to see these proposals become law, because they will help improve lives and neighborhoods throughout Indiana,” Moed said.
Jesselyn Bickley is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.