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The Statehouse News Bureau provides educational, comprehensive coverage of legislation, elections, issues and other activities surrounding the Statehouse to Ohio's public radio and television stations.

Preventing Eviction Could Play Big Role In Curbing Homelessness

[Doubletree Studio / Shutterstock]

U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) is proposing a bill that would track nationwide data on evictions and pump more money into an emergency assistance fund that would help tenants cover their rent.

The bipartisan Eviction Crisis Act would also beef up housing stability-related services such as aid for legal representation and mediation.

Bill Faith, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, said a small amount of money to avoid evictions can help families sidestep a downward spiral to potential homelessness.

"If they lose their housing it could interrupt the school, it could interrupt the parent's job, they could lose their belongings it just is a cumulative impact on that family," said Faith, adding that the money used to avoid evictions is a small amount compared to the funds used for homelessness services.

The Ohio Housing Finance Agency reported in 2017 that 105,150 evictions were filed in the state, accounting for 6.7 percent of all renter households.

There are bad actors in Ohio who try to illegally evict their tenants knowing they don't have the money to fight back in court, Faith said, and increasing the ability to mediate would liekly result in a drop off of evictions in Ohio and create a smoother process for the rest of the cases.

"It just levels the playing field cause they want to expedite the process they don’t want to have some drawn out battle so they'll try to work out an accommodation," Faith said.

The bill  is co-sponsored by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and has the support of Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

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