© 2024 Ideastream Public Media

1375 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44115
(216) 916-6100 | (877) 399-3307

WKSU is a public media service licensed to Kent State University and operated by Ideastream Public Media.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Akron is consistently ranked among the cheapest housing markets in the country, yet rents have risen 50% in the last two decades, while wages have remained stagnant. And the eviction rate is the highest among Ohio's largest cities. Home in Akron is a multimedia collaborative including WKSU focused on helping audiences better understand these housing issues and their underlying reasons.

The Real Impact Akron's Rental Housing Has on the City

Downtown Akron
The media collaborators will work to identify housing issues in Akron and what's being done to address them.

When it comes to quality of life, one of the most basic things is having a place to call home. A new media partnership in Akron wants to tell the stories of Akron residents  and the challenges they face when it comes to housing. Home in Akron is a collaboration involving The Devil Strip, WEWS-TV, the Beacon Journal, the Center for Investigative Reporting and WKSU.

Akron Beacon Journal reporter Doug Livingston says rental housing is one of the biggest problems in the city. He says rental rates have been rising while incomes have not.  

Livingston has talked with both tenants and landlords about the situation. 

A landlord's struggle
Livingston spoke with an Akron landlord who had rented a property to an individual who subsequently invited two others to move in with him. He then moved out. The two squatters remained and, as Livingston learned, can become tenants after just two weeks, even though the landlord has no signed rental agreement with them. She's now working to take back her property.    

“You’ve got to go through the legal eviction process, which is a hot topic in Akron because we know from an Eviction Lab study from Princeton University that there is a belief that Akron has the highest eviction rate in the state,” Livingston said.

Tenants with landlord problems
A story coming out Sunday features a 40-year-old Akron man who is dealing with a negligent landlord. Livingston says the man has some real concerns about the safety of this  apartment.

“He’s sleeping on the couch," Livingston said. "He’s afraid that his bedroom is going to collapse into the basement where the bottom course of block is crippled and buckling. Above him there was water damage and he is waiting for the tenant upstairs to come crashing down on him so he is sleeping on the couch,” Livingston said. 

A need for media collaboration
Livingston says the collaboration between the four media organizations allows more resources and reporters to focus on the topic and provides opportunities to reach and engage with different audiences.  

“The last thing I want to do is leave the community with problems and no answers, questions and no answers, problems and no solutions. So we want to build sustainable platforms, sustainable communication that connect residents, connect people that are dealing with an issue with somebody who is already solving it,” Livingston said.

This partnership builds on a series of community meetings the four media partners participated in last Spring. A series of open meetings is in the works for the next month or two, which will give residents from around Akron the chance to share their concerns and questions about housing in the city. The goal is to make sure this media collaboration is answering the questions that Akron residents have about their housing.

Home in Akron is a collaboration involving The Devil Strip, WEWS-TV, the Akron Beacon Journal, the Center for Investigative Reporting and WKSU.

Editor's note: This story has been udpated to include The Center for Investigative Reporting as a member of the collaborative.

Andrew Meyer is the deputy editor of news at Ideastream Public Media.
Amanda Levine is currently a senior journalism major with a minor in sports administration. Prior to being an intern at WKSU, Amanda has experience as both a reporter and an editor. She was a sports reporter for the Kent Stater and eventually, an Assigning Editor. She also has experience covering campus activism and the 2019 government shutdown.