Posted December 13, 202010:44 pm
Housing instability is one ripple effect — most notably due to evictions. This is a threat our city and our nation must work quickly to solve. COVID-19 has caused thousands of Clevelanders to lose their jobs through no fault of their own. As a result of those job losses, families and individuals affected who are unable to secure work often face eviction, with Black and brown communities disproportionately impacted.
Nearly 9,000 evictions were filed in Cleveland in 2016, according to a study by Case Western Reserve University. About 80% of those households were led by women of color, and 60% had at least one child in the home. Evictions are traumatic experiences that destabilize families and their opportunities for prosperity — often for generations to come. Consider this:
- Working renters who experience an eviction are up to 20% more likely to lose their jobs. (Social Problems, Housing and Employment Insecurity among the Working Poor, 2016)
- Once an eviction is on a credit report, finding healthy housing is significantly harder to do. These renters then end up in more resource-scarce neighborhoods and tend to rate their health lower than those individuals living in higher-income neighborhoods. (U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion)
- Resource-scarce neighborhoods tend to be less conveniently located to job hubs, leading to absenteeism and poor performance in the workplace — two of the top factors that lead directly to job loss. (Social Problems, Housing and Employment Insecurity among the Working Poor, 2016)
- Children who move more frequently tend to miss more school, have lower third-grade reading scores and are up to 30% more likely to drop out of school. (Fordham Institute, 2011) We know these milestones set young people up for future success, and without them, poverty persists for generations.
While a single, major investment does help, it will not turn the tide of the situation alone. Others must also join this effort. According to CHN Housing Partners, Cuyahoga County residents who inquired about rental assistance have lost a combined $128 million in income this year. Rental assistance is expected to be exhausted by the holiday season, nearly the same time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's eviction moratorium will expire. At that point, RTC will be inundated with eligible clients seeking assistance to remain in their homes. Without the support of RTC, families' risk of eviction increases, as does their risk of becoming homeless during the cold winter months.
The acute crisis we're facing does not have to become a chronic condition for thousands of Clevelanders. Nonprofits, foundations and government agencies alike are banding together and holding one another accountable as we work toward a common goal — to find solutions that improve the future for all Clevelanders. We're unraveling and rebuilding systems, policies and programs that were intentionally designed to target and exclude specific groups of people from collective prosperity.
There has never been a more critical time for action, nor has the need for additional resources and funding been greater. This is a time that requires ongoing leadership, collaboration and common agendas. We welcome the involvement and support of every business leader, legislator and community-minded citizen who wants to join us in this fight. It's a fight we can and will win — together.