With one of the highest eviction rates in the country, Dayton city leaders set out to do something about it last year with the formation of an Eviction Task Force. This summer, city commissioners passed two task force recommendations and may take further steps.
Under legislation passed June 3, landlords must cap any late fees to 5% of monthly rent, or a maximum of $25. Additionally, landlords must give renters a receipt if they pay in cash or by money order. This is important because some low-income tenants, who don't have bank accounts, have trouble proving in court their rent was paid.
"Dayton was facing an eviction crisis before COVID-19, and we know that it is likely to be deepened by the economic fallout of the pandemic," says Mayor Nan Whaley, who convened the task force. "I am grateful for the hard work of the Eviction Task Force to dig deep into these issues and identify some actions the city commission could take immediately to address the needs of low-income tenants."
Now Whaley is setting her sights on possible "Stay If You Pay" legislation. She says in Ohio landlords can still evict you even if you pay what you owe after being put on eviction notice. Whaley is trying to get the attention of state lawmakers to pass such legislation to make sure people can stay in their homes.
The problem is also being addressed on a national level.
"We are a country that does not believe housing is a human right and I think that if we do think that we need to start acting that way to provide quality housing for people who cannot afford it," she says.
Whaley says eviction is just one part of the overall housing issue Dayton is trying to solve. She says even though there are a lot of vacancies, there is still a housing shortage because those houses really aren't inhabitable.