Muncie renters who experience problems with their housing situation have a new tool to help them negotiate outcomes with their landlords.

Students in the Ball State University Master’s of Urban and Regional Planning program, under the direction of John West, worked with community residents on the south side of Muncie to gather information and produce a book that provides practical advice for renters and land lords during Spring 2018.

The class met weekly in Avondale Methodist Church and included eight members of the surrounding community. Each community participant came with deep experience in the problems of rental housing – from professionals who help link the indigent with public services, to good land lords, to a formerly homeless man who had experienced the worst of Muncie’s rental stock.

Over the course of the semester, the students and the participants researched legal protections and services offered to renters and land lords, assembled this information into the “Renter’s Book,” which contains advice, form letters, code citations, instructions and contact lists. It organized by the kinds of problems a renter or land lord might face. The “Renter’s Book” has been adopted by a local housing agency, Pathstone, Inc., where a Masters of Urban and Regional Planning graduate assistant is creating a program that will include a hotline for people in rental distress to call for answers to their questions.

The project is the result of a collaboration between Building Better Neighborhoods, which donated $10,700, Pathstone Inc., which has raised over $10,000 to support the Renter’s Book program, and the Ball State Urban Planning Department.