Columbus City Council member, Shayla Favor, believes there is an urgent need to provide help to people facing eviction. On Tuesday, she announced that $300,000 has been allocated for an Eviction Prevention Program.
“We’ve heard the stories. We know the statistics and impact on the community,” said Favor. “Most of the people we encounter have suffered a sudden financial hardship that leads to being evicted. We are stepping in with the pilot program to provide help.”
One-third of the funding will go to the Emergency Assistance Department at Impact Community Action to provide direct rental or mortgage help. The rest of the funds will go to The Legal Aid Society of Columbus to provide legal assistance to residents facing eviction.
“While this is only a drop in the bucket, it’s a start to addressing our housing crisis in Columbus,” Favor said. “I know that I can’t build a new housing project that serves the greatest need in our community right now, but what we can do is make sure that residents have the opportunity to stay in their homes.”
Evictions are considered one of the leading causes of housing instability. Each day, an average of 75 tenant families receives eviction paperwork from Franklin County Municipal Court. About half of those go to their eviction hearings.
“They are predominantly women with children,” said Ben Horne from the Legal Aid Society of Columbus. “Typically, they are being evicted for owing a month or less of rent.”
Impact Community Action is a non-profit focused on reducing poverty in Franklin County.
Latisha Chastang, director of the agency’s Emergency Assistance Department, said clients who get financial assistance also receive training to help stabilize their households and strengthen self-sufficiency.
“They will be participating in life coaching and case management because often times what we find at IMPACT is they have other housing barriers,” Chastang said.
IMPACT Executive Director Robert Chilton argues that the cost to keep a family in their home is far less than the cost to shelter and then re-house a family once they’ve been evicted.
“Families often lose possessions that are hard to replace and once they receive an eviction on their record, it is next to impossible to find safe and stable housing,” Chilton said. “Eviction prevention is a critically important component to addressing our housing crisis.”