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New initiative aims to prevent non-payment evictions in Cincinnati public housing

the notice of eviction of tenants hangs on the door of the house, front view
Vyacheslav Dumchev
the notice of eviction of tenants hangs on the door of the house, front view

A new program aims to prevent non-payment evictions for tenants in Cincinnati's public housing.

The pilot program will help residents with Cincinnati Metropolitan Public Housing Authority get help to pay back rent and receive financial planning assistance for up to a year to help keep them from falling behind in the future.

"We're probably gonna refer anywhere from 300 to 600 people to the program during the course of a year," said CMHA CEO Greg Johnson. "I have a group of people that we're waiting to get through the process now."

Non-payment is the most common cause of eviction in Hamilton County.

Local nonprofit GreenLight Cincinnati is investing $600,000 to fund the Renew Collaborative, which will be operated by the Care Coordination team at the United Way of Greater Cincinnati. The Massachusetts-based nonprofit HomeStart created the Renew Collaborative in 2008.

"[We're] working with folks to help them figure out how they ended up in this situation," said HomeStart's Chief Program's Officer Kelly Mulligan, "What are some things they can do to make sure it doesn't happen again? What are resources they might not be accessing in the community? And then also keeping in touch with people for a year after we resolve their immediate crisis to make sure that they're continuing to get all the help that they need."

Cincinnati is the first city outside of Massachusetts to pilot the program.

Mulligan says this model isn't just good for tenants, it's also cost-effective for landlords who save money on court costs and unit turnover by avoiding a nonpayment eviction. The concept is designed to be financially sustainable — landlords pay a fee to participate in the eviction prevention program, and the fees go toward prevention elsewhere.

Mulligan says the program has saved Massachusetts property owners an estimated $16 million since the program started several years ago.

For now the program is only available to tenants in the roughly 4,300 CMHA units. Officials hope to expand it to non-subsidized housing over the next few years.

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.