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Akron To Resume Eviction Hearings July 6

Akron has the highest eviction rate in Ohio, according to a Princeton University study. [Doubletree Studio / Shutterstock]
An eviction notice slipped under a door.

Akron Municipal Court resumes hearing eviction cases Monday after a months-long moratorium under COVID-19 restrictions.

The moratorium covered most eviction cases from March through June. Some cases not related to non-payment did go through, said Community Legal Aid Managing Attorney John Petit.

Petit is expecting the number of eviction cases to rise dramatically in the coming weeks.

“Because the court has put so many on hold, and as unemployment assistance runs out and the federal moratorium ends, that is going to increase the numbers,” he said.

The city already faces higher than average eviction rates. Akron was ranked first in Ohio for eviction rates in a Princeton University study earlier this year, and landed in the top 25 nationally.

Eviction hearings will be held on Zoom to better accommodate social distancing needs, considering the small courtroom where they are usually held. But that creates problems for those who don’t have reliable internet access, Petit said.

“I’m a little concerned about the due process rights of our clients,” Petit said, “to make sure that they can be adequately heard and present evidence.”

Calling into Zoom hearing can mean waiting on hold for extended periods of time, Petit said, which also causes problems for people who pay for phone service by the minute.

“It’s a whole new dynamic,” Petit said. “The court has not done any Zoom hearings, to my knowledge, before this pandemic.”

Summit County has a rent relief fund available for people impacted by COVID-19, Petit said. Community Legal Aid is working to connect people facing eviction with those resources and has asked the court for a list of eviction cases on the waitlist, he said, but cannot ethically contact them directly.

“It’s been a little frustrating, because we’ve been trying to get more information to reach out to those folks. It’s been challenging,” Petit said.

Instead, community partners such as Fair Housing Contact Service will reach out to individuals, Petit said. Community Legal Aid is also hosting weekly Zoom meetings to provide presentations and answer questions about evictions and other services the organization provides.

Akron Municipal Court did not respond to ideastream’s request for comment.

ideatream’s Isaiah Paik contributed to this report.