Study: Akron Eviction Rate First In Ohio, 24th Nationally
A report from the Eviction Lab at Princeton University says Akron has the highest eviction rate in the state and the 24th highest nationally, with nearly seven renters evicted every day.
It's not news to the Fair Housing Contact Service, a nonprofit housing support group in Akron. Lauren Green-Hull, the group's associate director, said they've been aware of that data for years, and they've organized a task force to combat the problem.
"Akron Municipal Court (is involved), the city, the county, community legal aid, University of Akron Law School, United Way, since they're the ones who oversee central intake for homeless services in our community, health department, because we're talking about housing conditions as well," Green-Hull said.
The task force is in the very early stages and there's no timeline for action yet, she added. One initiative the group is considering is a one-time assistance program that would help with car repair so tenants can get to work and still pay rent.
The Princeton report does not identify specific reasons for the high eviction rate in Akron, but Green-Hull said there's a number of concerns.
"In just the last year alone, we've watched rent rates double in the city...so the lack of affordable housing is the general answer there," Green-Hull said, adding the city does not offer rental assistance, except to those who are already homeless.
"They then face eviction, are evicted from stable housing they've been able to afford and have an eviction on their record, so then are in a cycle where they can't even get in to housing that is safe, santiary, affordable even," Green-Hull said.
Homeless and eviction rates in Akron haven't changed much over the past several years, she said, but more attention has been paid to the problem.
"Those two things are connected and, sadly, they're deeply connected because there is a large percentage of folks who are homeless that have an eviction on their record," Green-Hull said.
She said awareness of resources is the best way to prevent a potential eviction, such as placing rent money in escrow with the courts during a dispute over repairs with a landlord.
"Whether that's before they file an eviction if they're a housing provider, if they're a resident and want to stop paying their rent because of repairs that need to be made or something of that sort, or they're facing an eviction, please contact an agency in their area that can give them information," Green-Hull said.
Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan's press secretary, Ellen Lander Nischt, said the city will hold its first tenant education session in March and hope to hold another session later in the year. Mayor Horrigan is looking to launch a landlord council to share information with the city directly in 2020.
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