People of Housing Security:
Elizabeth Lopez

IU student turned townie has dedicated the past 20 years to assisting people in need.

Originally from Northwest Indiana, Elizabeth Lopez graduated from East Chicago Central in 1994. After graduating high school, she drove down to Indiana University to begin the Groups summer program. During undergrad she studied psychology with the hopes that she could advocate and give a voice to underrepresented groups. 

Like many college seniors, she didn’t know what career path she wanted to take post graduation. That uncertainty quickly changed when she saw a job opening in the newspaper for a Spanish-speaking case manager at Middle Way House. Elizabeth felt a light bulb click on and she applied for the job. She loved being able to help the clients she met at Middle Way House and worked there for 10-15 years. But like many frontline staff, she got burnt out in crisis management work. 

Elizabeth now serves as a Senior Case Investigator at Bloomington Township. This month marks her nine-year anniversary at the township. In a typical week she holds appointments with people to discuss assistance options. She helps residents connect and navigate community resources. Elizabeth is often found tabling or presenting about the township’s resources at community events. She also provides recommendations to Efrat Rosser, Bloomington Township Trustee, based on requests from residents. 

The most common requests Elizabeth sees are related to rent, utility bills, medical bills, and bus passes. She enjoys working at Bloomington Township because she feels like she can help divert people from being in crisis. She finds joy in helping residents secure housing, maintain housing, and avoid the loss of residence.

“There’s not enough time in a day and resources to meet everyone’s needs”

Elizabeth Lopez

However, her work doesn’t come without challenges. She has recently seen an increase in requests related to assistance with disconnected utilities and pending evictions. The increased demand for appointments has caused her to be scheduling out a month in advance. For those in dire need, that can be too far out. “There’s not enough time in a day and resources to meet everyone’s needs,” she said. 

Elizabeth wishes people knew that asking for help can be difficult. She believes this difficulty has been caused by the stigma of receiving assistance and she wants to remove this barrier. She believes that “asking for help is a strength.” She added: “If you need assistance, please just come and apply.”

In her free time you can catch Elizabeth listening to music, binging a good show on Netflix, or cooking with her boyfriend. One of the reasons she loves living in Bloomington is because of the access to live music, art galleries, and plays. She also loves visiting her family back in East Chicago, but wishes the drive weren’t so long!

About the People of Housing Security: This series highlights the work of those committed to improving the lives of residents in South Central Indiana. Find all the articles in this series here.