Dayton among cities with highest eviction rates: Portman, others want to know cause

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Cincinnati, is sponsoring legislation to collect data on the root causes of eviction and to prevent unnecessary evictions.
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Cincinnati, is sponsoring legislation to collect data on the root causes of eviction and to prevent unnecessary evictions.

Several Ohio cities, including Dayton, are among the nation’s top places for evictions and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman is pushing federal legislation that would examine root causes to try to prevent them.

“Evictions in many Ohio cities are hitting record levels as housing costs are growing increasingly out of reach, especially for those with the lowest incomes. We all now understand that evictions are not only the result of – but also a cause of – deeper poverty leading to increasing homelessness, particularly among families with children,” said Bill Faith, director of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio. “This legislation has the promise of helping to reverse that tide.”

Portman and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, are co-sponsoring the Eviction Crisis Act. It is supported by national and local organizations, including the NAACP, National League of Cities, Habitat for Humanity, Daybreak Inc., Ohio Poverty Law Center, Access Center for Independent Living, St. Mary Development Corp. and others. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Cleveland, is also backing the legislation.

The bill would:

— Improve data and analysis on evictions;

— Increase legal representation for tenants and establishing an emergency help fund;

— Expand the use of landlord-tenant community courts;

— Provide a path for tenants to view and correct screening reports used by landlords.

Related: Dayton’s eviction rate among highest in Midwest

The efforts are coming in part because nearly seven % of Ohio’s 1.57 million renter households received an eviction filing in one year. Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton, Lucas, Butler, Clark, Marion, and Richland counties had the highest eviction filings rates in the state, according to COHHIO.

Across the nation, 2.3 million eviction filings were made in courthouses in 2016 — a rate of four every minute. An eviction filing makes it extremely difficult to secure future housing, experts say.

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley earlier this year announced an Eviction Task Force to address the problem as well.

“Evictions have become a nationwide crisis, including here in Dayton. As our Eviction Task Force continues to look at ways to prevent unnecessary evictions locally, I’m encouraged that Congress is also exploring creative methods to keep people in their homes and promote community stability,” Whaley said.

In Dayton, nearly six of every 100 renter households are evicted each year, which is a higher rate than all but five major Midwest municipalities, according to data from the Eviction Lab at Princeton University.

The six Ohio cities that rank among those with the highest eviction rates: Akron, 6%; Dayton, 5.94%; Toledo, 5.63%; Cincinnati, 4.7%, Columbus, 4.55% and Cleveland, 4.53%.

Hamilton’s eviction rate is 7.6%, Middletown 8.4% and Springfield 5.97%.

According to Portman’s office, median rent payments have risen 61 % since 1960 yet median renter income grew 5%, adjusting for inflation.

Related: Rental market tightens even more as tenants are displaced by tornadoes

The affordable housing crisis burdens families, the economy, health care system, courts, schools and local governments, according to Portman’s office.