Some families have seen their rent go up by more than $300 this month, according to the Cincinnati Community Action Agency. The reaction of some landlords to people struggling to pay has surprised some advocates who see a new trend.
“One of the things we’ve seen lately is landlords evicting clients before they even get to the end of the month on their rents and asking for an eviction,” said Dr Ebony Griggs-Griffin, Vice President of Community Services for Community Action. Agency (CAA).
Such pressure pushes families to make difficult choices. For better or worse, Bruce and Amber Winstead are committed to ensuring their 7-year-old daughter always has a home, even with rising rents tearing their budget apart.
“It hurts because I can really talk about it,” Bruce Winstead said. “It’s because you have to prepare yourself every month through food.”
Their landlord asked for $100 in extra rent last month. Amber, a part-time warehouse worker, and Bruce, who owns a small music business, are now forced to spend money that was previously earmarked for groceries on rent.
They said they found it easier to get food aid than help with paying their rent.
“It’s (not) just with (Hamilton County) Employment and Family Services,” Amber said. “(There are) other resources with food. You go to the free corner store, Goodwill, places like that. (There are) places where you can get food, clothes, whatever.”
Griggs-Griffin said CAA customers have seen rents go up to $300 more per month without warning.
“It’s almost sickening,” she said. “It makes my stomach ache some of the stories we hear and some of the stories we see.”
While the CAA is offering rental assistance through a pandemic-related grant program that has funding through September, they have a queue of customers waiting for service. Plus, the CAA has many more applications every day, Griggs-Griffin said.
The agency operates its own food pantry four times a week and offers Kroger vouchers to help struggling families.
Lawyers recommended that people facing significant difficulty paying rent try to negotiate with landlords or consult with the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati to better understand tenant rights.
“We have clients who are now staying in hotels or with their families until they can find affordable housing to rent and they are really struggling to find an affordable home that we can move into,” Griggs said. -Griffin.
The Winsteads have no plans to move. Instead, they steal money elsewhere to try to save money.
“My biggest fear is, I would say, surviving, but just getting through it,” Amber Winstead said.
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