RHINO is the Rental Housing Information Network in Ohio

Today in Ohio history

April 10, 1992 -- Cincinnatian financier Charles Keating Jr. was sentenced in Los Angeles to nine years in prison for swindling investors when his Lincoln Savings and Loan collapsed. California Superior Court Judge Lance Ito gave Keating the maximum 10-year prison sentence, quoting Woody Guthrie, to wit "More people have suffered from the point of a fountain pen than from a gun." (The convictions were later overturned).

Important updates.

March 29, 2021. Today the Centers for Disease Control extended the Eviction Moratorium for 3 months and the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a Joint Statement on self help evictions being used against tenants. At the same time, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati has declined to issue a stay of the decision in the Tiger Lily case which finds the CDC moratorium unconstitutional. The Hamilton County Court and Toledo Municipal Court resumed eviction hearings on April 1st. Franklin County courts will take under consideration a motion to stop enforcing the CDC moratorium early this week. Cleveland Municipal court has not spoken on the issue yet.

This week's rental housing news

  • March 31, 2021. Cleveland.com. ‘Pay to Stay’ laws chase imaginary problem for landlords who want good tenants. "The March 27 op-ed promoting Pay to Stay legislation as yet another tenant right strikes me as a solution in search of a problem (”Tenant laws such as ‘Pay to Stay’ create stability beyond pandemic.”) The writer doesn’t cite a single case where a tenant has been preyed upon by an unscrupulous landlord, and claims that landlords are still protected by being able to evict tenants “for cause.' ”

  • Mar 29, 2021. PBS NewsHour. American renters hard-hit by pandemic juggle complicated assistance systems, eviction laws. "Jyoshu Tsushima: There's a pretty big misunderstanding about what this eviction moratorium is."

  • Mar 28. 2021. Lakewood, CMHA officials need to induce large property management firms to take vouchers. "City of Lakewood officials and executives at the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority seem uninterested in engaging these property management companies, who control more than 1,400 units among them, in a dialogue to dispel the facts, myths and barriers in taking qualified Section 8 voucher holders. Yes, I have approached them with the idea and yet, here I am."

  • Ohio Supreme Court Decision Makes Ballot Language More Fair. For Immediate Release: March 30, 2021. From: Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition (GCHC), Metropolitan Area Religious Coalition of Cincinnati (MARCC), Affordable Housing Advocates (AHA) Contact: Josh Spring (GCHC): joshspring@cincihomeless.org; 513-716-7455, Margaret Fox (MARCC): margaretafox@marcconline.com; 609-439-1881. www.actionforhousingnow.com. "This afternoon, the Ohio Supreme Court issued their decision in our lawsuit to defend the voices of the 9,541 people who signed the affordable housing trust fund petition over the last several months. We are thankful for the work of the Justices and their staff and are pleased with much of the decision."

  • Here's the news report. March 31, 2021. WVXU. Affordable Housing Charter Amendment Language Must Be Rewritten, Ohio Supreme Court Says. "The Ohio Supreme Court says the ballot language for an affordable housing Cincinnati charter amendment must be re-written. The court's decision is in response to a lawsuit filed by advocates who petitioned to put the amendment on the May ballot."

  • Mar. 31, 2021.WTVG. Eviction moratorium will end on Thursday. "The 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ended the CDC moratorium on certain evictions, effective April 1. Renters will once again face the prospect of eviction after the CDC’s eviction moratorium effectively expires on April 1. The CDC had extended the moratorium on evictions through June 30, but the 6th Circuit United States Court of Appeals invalidated the CDC’s extension. The 6th Circuit’s decision ends the seven-month CDC order barring certain evictions. This moratorium shielded renters from eviction if they earned less than $99,000 and also had lost income during the pandemic and were further likely to become homeless if evicted."

  • April 2, 2021. Columbus Dispatch. Fund to create affordable housing in Franklin County has loaned $22.3 million so far. '

  • April 3, 2021. Cincinnati Enquirer. 'The exact wrong time:' Evictions resume as pandemic-triggered mortarium is put in doubt. "On Friday, county and city officials and others urged Hamilton County Municipal Court – where eviction proceedings take place – to reconsider and extend the moratorium. At a news conference outside the courthouse, Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval said halting eviction proceedings will allow more than $60 million that is available locally to go to people who need it. The money, said Pureval, who is one of six candidates for Cincinnati mayor, “can be utilized to make sure tenants stay in their homes and ensure landlords are made whole.” More than 60% of city residents are renters."

  • Apr 01, 2021. WEWS Ch5. South Euclid church donates $34,000 for housing and rent relief. "While the debate continues over a federal moratorium on evictions, one Cuyahoga County church is helping those looking for relief on housing bills. Reverend Courtney Clayton Jenkins serves as the senior pastor at South Euclid United Church of Christ, which announced it raised more than $34,000. The money will help around 70 local families through several area nonprofits.

We heard it through the grapevine.

😪 The CDC Moratorium is all but dead...at least in Ohio...at least for now. rhino!UP hates to say we told you so, but check back to March 14th.

This week, the 6th District Court of Appeals in Cincinnati denied HUD's motion for a stay in a case from Tennessee. Now many local eviction courts are declaring the CDC moratorium over. What's next for rent stressed Ohioans? Quick! Apply for rental assistance ASAP and offer to make a deal to forestall your landlord from filing an eviction. Even a filing, if later resolved in the tenant's favor, will result in a chit on the tenant's credit record...making it harder or more costly to obtain a rental home again. (More on tenant screening enhancements in a future rhino!UP).

🚀 Biden bucks could flow into affordable housing. Overlooked in the proposed American Rescue Plan is a chunk of money to modernize Federally Assisted Housing. NextCity reports: "...the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act...would put $20 billion toward building and rehabbing 500,000 homes for low-income and middle-income buyers.... The plan proposes funding incentives for communities that eliminate exclusionary zoning laws and permit more housing by right; investing $40 billion in public-housing maintenance and repair; and upgrading and retrofitting existing homes through the Weatherization Assistance Program and other initiatives."

🌋 Rat out self-help evictors! This past week the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) pledged to investigate landlords who skip the legal process to force tenants out of their homes.

"Staff at both agencies will be monitoring and investigating eviction practices, particularly by major multistate landlords, eviction management services, and private equity firms, to ensure that they are complying with the law. Evicting tenants in violation of the CDC, state, or local moratoria, or evicting or threatening to evict them without apprising them of their legal rights under such moratoria, may violate prohibitions against deceptive and unfair practices, including under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act. We will not tolerate illegal practices that displace families and expose them—and by extension all of us—to grave health risks." (italics added)

It is clear from the statement that CFPB and FTC are interested in large corporate landlords who have a practice of violating the civil rights of tenants. Tenants or advocates can file a complaint with CFPB at www.consumerfinance.gov/complaint/ or call (855) 411-2372 or via TTY/TDD at (855) 729-2372. In Ohio "self help eviction" is illegal under the Ohio Landlord Tenant Law.

🌇 Cincinnati's Affordable Housing Ballot issue deserves your attention. rhino!UP has said it before, but it bears repeating. Cincinnati housing activists gathered 7,000 signatures to put the affordable housing issue on the ballot in May. The voter initiative will require the City to invest $50M/year to the Affordable Housing Trust fund which currently stands at $1.5M. Push back is ferocious. The City Manager's alternative is to commit $5M from Federal stimulus funds that the city expects to receive. Some on City Council want to cap affordable housing. Councilman Steve Goodin says some neighborhoods areas are oversaturated with such housing and that residents were worried adding more will lower their own property values. And if that's not enough, WVXU says: frontline workers (AKA city employee unions) came out against Issue 3 saying that the $50M/year would come out of their paychecks. Earlier some police reps tried to connect the Affordable Housing Fund to efforts to "defund the police."

Footnote: APR 2, 2021. WVXU. Some Cincinnati Officials Doubt Accuracy Of Much-Cited Affordable Housing Gap. "The Cincinnati City Manager's office wants to hire an independent group to analyze how much affordable housing the city needs. Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman says he's concerned the information currently available is outdated. 'As we're trying to shape public policy, we want the most accurate data,' Smitherman said at this week's meeting of the affordable housing subcommittee. A number often cited by officials, advocates and reporters is that Hamilton County has a 40,000-unit gap in affordable housing, including a 28,000-unit gap in the city of Cincinnati."