The Real Impact Akron's Rental Housing Has on the City
When it comes to quality of life, one of the most basic things is having a place to call home. A new media partnership in Akron wants to tell the stories of Akron residents and the challenges they face when it comes to housing. Home in Akron is a collaboration involving The Devil Strip, WEWS-TV, the Beacon Journal, the Center for Investigative Reporting and WKSU.
Akron Beacon Journal reporter Doug Livingston says rental housing is one of the biggest problems in the city. He says rental rates have been rising while incomes have not.
Livingston has talked with both tenants and landlords about the situation.
A landlord's struggle
Livingston spoke with an Akron landlord who had rented a property to an individual who subsequently invited two others to move in with him. He then moved out. The two squatters remained and, as Livingston learned, can become tenants after just two weeks, even though the landlord has no signed rental agreement with them. She's now working to take back her property.
“You’ve got to go through the legal eviction process, which is a hot topic in Akron because we know from an Eviction Lab study from Princeton University that there is a belief that Akron has the highest eviction rate in the state,” Livingston said.
Tenants with landlord problems
A story coming out Sunday features a 40-year-old Akron man who is dealing with a negligent landlord. Livingston says the man has some real concerns about the safety of this apartment.
“He’s sleeping on the couch," Livingston said. "He’s afraid that his bedroom is going to collapse into the basement where the bottom course of block is crippled and buckling. Above him there was water damage and he is waiting for the tenant upstairs to come crashing down on him so he is sleeping on the couch,” Livingston said.
A need for media collaboration
Livingston says the collaboration between the four media organizations allows more resources and reporters to focus on the topic and provides opportunities to reach and engage with different audiences.
“The last thing I want to do is leave the community with problems and no answers, questions and no answers, problems and no solutions. So we want to build sustainable platforms, sustainable communication that connect residents, connect people that are dealing with an issue with somebody who is already solving it,” Livingston said.
This partnership builds on a series of community meetings the four media partners participated in last Spring. A series of open meetings is in the works for the next month or two, which will give residents from around Akron the chance to share their concerns and questions about housing in the city. The goal is to make sure this media collaboration is answering the questions that Akron residents have about their housing.
Editor's note: This story has been udpated to include The Center for Investigative Reporting as a member of the collaborative.