RHINO is the Rental Housing Information Network in Ohio

Today in Ohio history

July 5, 1947 -- Cleveland baseball rookie Larry Doby becomes first black player in the American League. A seven-time All-Star center fielder, Doby and teammate Satchel Paige were the first African-American players to win a World Series championship in 1948 and he helped Cleveland win a MLB record 111 games and the AL pennant in 1954.

This week's rental housing news

  • June 24, 2022. Cincinnati Enquirer via Columbus Dispatch. Ohio cities won't be allowed to impose rent control under law signed by Gov. Mike DeWine. "Ohio cities will be blocked from imposing rent control measures on landlords under a bill signed into law by Gov. Mike DeWine on Friday. House Bill 430 started out as a natural gas line regulation measure but was amended to include a mechanism to preempt local rent control efforts. It was backed by landlords and bankers."

  • June 16, 2022. Scioto Valley Guardian. Emotions ignite as Chillicothe City Council is accused of trying to “ban the homeless” "The hot-button issue is homelessness. Item number five on the agenda was a piece of legislation that would modify the city’s criminal law for trespassing, or what is more legally known as “criminal trespassing.” In the proposed language, it would become a misdemeanor crime for someone to sleep in public unless there were no other resources available. In other words: if you are homeless, you would be arrested for setting up a tent or sleeping in the park or under a bridge unless the local police could determine there were absolutely no available resources, such as hotel vouchers offered by local non-profits or an empty bed at a nearby homeless shelter. The penalty would carry up to thirty days in jail."

  • June 27, 2022. WOSU. Mayor Ginther unveils new affordable housing plan for Columbus. "The strategy rests on three pillars: preserve existing housing affordability, invest in new housing, and inclusion--that is, addressing racial and economic disparities impacting neighborhoods. 'Rising housing costs are causing vulnerable residents to be evicted, displaced, or forced into shelters. And disproportionately, households headed by women and people of color are being pushed over the edge and into the crisis,' Ginther said. Ginther wants to put a $200 million bond issue before voters in November, four times the amount voters authorized in 2019 to help fund affordable housing developments."

Worth a thought

Community Legal Services of Philadelphia has released a report on eviction in Philadelphia. TRENDS AND CHALLENGES IN THE PHILADELPHIA RENTAL MARKET June 2022. The gorilla in the room is the section on non-judicial displacement. "Illegal evictions—in which landlords lock renters out, threaten them, pay them to move, or otherwise force them to move without a court hearing—are distressingly common. The survey data suggest that 6.8 percent of tenants faced informal eviction in February 2019-February 2020, which is on par with the court-based eviction rate. This rate increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, when legal evictions were temporarily halted. Also noteworthy is the role of third-party leasing or property management companies in informal (including illegal) eviction. During the pandemic, tenants who paid rent to third-party companies rather than directly to their landlords experienced disproportionate rates of informal eviction."

Six transformative housing policies for 2025

After high hopes for a progressive Congress were washed up on the beach of Lake SineManchin, housing advocates shifted to tinkering with the current housing issues. For those who have lived thru periods of policy stagnation under Presidents Clinton ("school uniforms") and Obama ("the beer summit"), the prospect of another round of "small ball policies seems unproductive. In the arena of "affordable housing," Biden's latest policy statement hands the keys to the same crowd that masterminded the last two housing crises in 2008 and 2020: the Federal Reserve, Fannie and Freddie, and the homebuilders.

Having missed the opportunity presented by the Pandemic Recession, housing advocates' next bite at the housing policy apple won't come until 2025, the year after the next presidential election. To make progress in 2025, advocates need to begin now to lay the foundations for transformative changes in Federal housing policy.

1. Universal Housing Vouchers. Vouchers for all who qualify. Create SOI protections and phasing out project based rental assistance. Incremental increases in vouchers that are proposed in Congress will be helpful, but perpetuating the current system of unconscionable lotteries and demographic preferences undermines the notion of affordable housing as a right.

2. Green New Deal for Federally Assisted Housing. Reviving government owned (social) housing can create local jobs, innovate energy and climate technologies, and address the impacts of climate change on a time scale that makes sense. Historically public (social) housing became a haven for African American households and quickly became stigmatized, paternalistic, and suffered from disinvestment. GNDPH can shake off that stigma.

3. New homeownership models. For a century, single family homeownership was based on 30 year fixed rate mortgages. Times have changed. Use of alternative ownership models can flip the script: Community land trusts, limited equity coops, municipal land banks, non-profit rent to own with tenure rights. Federal Tax incentives can help, but local initiatives are the place to begin.

4. Local funding models. Local housing development funds that are financed by bond issues or dedicated tax revenues have a future. Using zero interest loans instead of tax rebate incentives they can reshape local housing initiatives. In Ohio, public housing authorities and local governments have bonding authority that can be used to finance new housing opportunities. So far local governments have decided to use ARPA and other Federal windfall dollars for local housing trust funds, rather than creating a dedicated local funding stream.

5. Energy efficiency residential standards. Outlawing gas heating and stoves in all new construction codes, requiring weatherization standards and water conservation systems. The Supreme Court decision in West Virginia v. EPA does not affect regulation by local and state governments. One barrier to local standards could be state pre-emption of local home rule.

6. New Federal housing finance system. A new housing finance system with a mandate to create sustainable housing production and maintain affordable housing costs can guide the supply side of housing. Since the collapse of the public/private system of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Congress has sought a "solution" to the problem of stable housing finance policy. An quasi independent agency like the Federal Reserve Bank is the answer.

"Some people say life's like a merry-go-round

I think it's more like a ferris wheel

'Cause sometimes you're up, sometimes you're down

Sometimes you just don't know what to feel

And just when you think you've got the game figured out

And you say you've had enough

The mysterious mad man with his hand on the lever

Don't seem to never ever want to let you off"

Todd Rungren "The Wheel"

Is it time for you or your organization to get off the wheel and begin working for real equitable change?

Read more about the Six Policies project.