Mar 16, 2023 - News

Cleveland evictions rising, for now

Reproduced from Eviction Lab; Chart: Axios Visuals

Cuyahoga County Council has introduced an ordinance that would allow tenants to pay past-due rent and late fees to avoid eviction.

Why it matters: Ohio is one of only five states where a landlord may evict a tenant after only one day of being late on rent.

State of play: So-called "pay to stay" legislation has already been codified in eight Cuyahoga County communities, including Cleveland, but the proposed ordinance would extend those tenant protections countywide.

What they're saying: "[Evictions] totally disrupt one's work performance, one's relationships," county councilman Dale Miller, who is sponsoring the legislation, told Ideastream. "It takes over one's life and creates a huge amount of stress and difficulty."

The big picture: The legislation arrives as evictions in Cleveland are rising above pre-pandemic levels, according to data from Eviction Lab.

By the numbers: 642 evictions were filed in February.

  • That's the third-highest total in any month since 2020 — only January 2020 and September 2022 were higher — and the first time since 2020 that the monthly filings eclipsed that month's average from 2016-19.

Flashback: Sweeping local and national eviction moratoriums helped keep many families in their homes through the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since those moratoriums expired, many Americans have again become vulnerable to displacement.

  • The eviction crisis tends to disproportionately affect minority groups — particularly Black women, Eviction Lab research specialist Jacob Haas told Axios.

Between the lines: Rising rents and the end of emergency rental assistance programs means that low-income tenants are stretched even thinner as they struggle to pay monthly housing costs.

  • That could explain the rising eviction numbers in February, Carrie Pleasants, executive director of the Fair Housing Center for Rights and Research, told Axios.

Zoom in: In Cleveland, pay-to-stay legislation was predated by "right-to-counsel" legislation, which provides tenants with free legal representation in eviction proceedings.

  • "While pay-to-stay legislation was essential to pass, and right-to-counsel has been hugely successful, there is no defense that can be used to stop an eviction if the tenant doesn't have the money to pay the rent," Pleasants said. "We are likely to see eviction numbers continue to rise."

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