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from Spectrum News 1: Rent Increasingly Out of Reach for Ohioans

Posted August 5, 2020
4:22 pm

Written by Alexa Maslowski in Spectrum News 1 on 08/05/2020

Ohio tenants are increasingly unable to afford their rent, and while the pandemic has amplified it, managing attorney at The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, Abigail Staudt said this problem isn’t new.

“Even before COVID-19 hit, we had an affordable housing crisis,” Staudt said. “The reality is that way more people are paying more than 30 percent of their income towards their rent, which is how you measure what affordability is. It's more like most people are paying closer to 50 percent of their income towards their housing.”

A report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition shows in order to afford a two-bedroom home, Ohio renters need to make a wage of $15.99 per hour. If they make minimum wage, they would need to work 74 hours per week.

“Our economy hasn't quite picked up yet, and so, while there is some unemployment help, some federal stimulus help, that's not forever. And it may not be adequate to meet the rent needs” said Staudt.

Cleveland launched a program to help tenants during the pandemic. Eligible applicants may receive as much as three months of rental assistance paid directly to the landlord.

“The rental assistance program is intended to alleviate the burden on Clevelanders needing assistance as a result of the coronavirus pandemic,” Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said in a statement. “It is our intent that this assistance helps ease renters’ worries by providing resources during these stressful and uncertain times.”

Staudt recommends communicating with your landlord if you feel that you can’t make your rent payment.

“We really recommend if you can tell them in advance that you're going to have trouble paying for your rent,” Staudt said. “Keep the communication open with your landlord, your landlord can be an advocate in helping identify rent assistance they may know of some resources.”

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