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Evictions on rise locally, could skyrocket in coming months

Our region already has a higher than average eviction rate that appears to be on the rise again. (WKRC)
Our region already has a higher than average eviction rate that appears to be on the rise again. (WKRC)
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WOODLAWN, Ohio (WKRC) – Brittany Knott saw her hours cut with a local road construction company after the coronavirus hit, and now, the 32-year-old single mother of two young daughters is facing eviction after a dispute with her landlord.

"It's uninhabitable,” said Knott, who said a sewer pipe leaked raw sewage in her basement and a tree limb fell on her car at the small house. “It's been hard for me to find something, especially with the coronavirus...So, I'm about to be homeless."

Experts like Princeton University's Peter Hepburn say evictions will only get worse as rent comes due next week for many.

Hepburn created The Eviction Lab website to track evictions across the country. The site relies on data from the U.S. Census but gets real-time information from other areas, including from Hamilton County.

"It seems more likely than not that we will see a very large number of cases filed,” Hepburn said.

United States Sen. Tim Kaine from Virginia rang the alarm bells on the Senate floor earlier in August. Kaine said he expects evictions to skyrocket due to high unemployment, decreased benefits and expiring moratoriums around the country.

"One estimate is 12 million evictions will be filed by October. Twelve million is essentially the combined population of about six or seven states,” Kaine said.

The region already has a higher than average eviction rate that appears to be on the rise again. In 2016, Hamilton County’s eviction rate stood at 4%, or 16.5 evictions per day. The Ohio rate was 3.5% and only 2.3% nationally.

More recently, the rates are increasing rapidly in Hamilton County. Over the last two months, landlords and the courts evicted more than 100 tenants a week, including 177 at the end of July and 129 earlier in August.

Other counties in the area do not have real-time data, but Ohio counties in the region also had eviction rates higher than the national average in 2016.

Local experts, such as Nick Dinardo with the Legal Aid Society of Cincinnati, say allowing tenants to stay lessens the impact on both landlords and the social safety net.

“And frankly, it’s cheaper. What we’ve found is it’s much cheaper to keep them in their own housing,” DiNardo said. “To help them with one, two months rent while they’re waiting for the unemployment compensation or waiting to be called back to work than it is to evict someone.”

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear this week rescinded the state's eviction moratorium but made it harder for landlords to evict tenants.

Local 12 also asked Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine about the issue earlier in August and he said he was waiting to see if Congress took action, but he said a moratorium is possible.

"We're looking at that,” he said. “I don't have anything to announce today or to add to it today, but it is a concern to us moving forward. We're taking a look at it."

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Knott says she is trying to work through the issue with her landlord with mediation help from a Cincinnati nonprofit but says the coronavirus has slowed things down.

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