Stable rental households are fundamental to future success of household members. Frequent moves, loss of basic utility services, and persistent exposure to unsafe, and unhealthy conditions can rob families, and especially children of the building blocks for success. Matthew Desmond says: "Without a home, everything else falls apart."
Changing the systems that promotes instability is an important advocacy goal, but in the meantime, arming low income households with coping skills is equally important. Here's some basics that can help low income families stabilize their households.
3. Save your receipts. Landlords in Ohio are not required to give receipts and money order stubs are a poor substitute. Renters should demand something in writing every time they give money. Renting is a renter family's business.
5. Manage your credit record (and score) Not long ago, credit reports only mattered if a tenant was buying a house. Now landlords routinely check credit records and may adjust the terms of a lease or the amount of a security deposit based on what they find,
2. Understand tenants rights and duties. There's many places to find out more about rental rights in Ohio. Find guidance from a reliable source.
3. Eviction doesn't necessarily mean "get out." In Ohio "eviction" is a three step process that results in a judicial order. Landlord cannot simply show up and put a tenant's belongings on the sidewalk. Contact an attorney to see if there's a defense to an eviction.
1. Mold comes from places in your home where there is standing water. This could be as simple as using vent fans, but may require repairs to leaking pipes, walls and roofs. When a tenant sees mold, then look for the water source and have the problem corrected.
2. Roaches, Asthma, Pesticides. Roaches are another problem that tenants can help to control. Preventing roaches can eliminate asthma attacks, but using harmful pesticides can make allergies worse. Make sure the exterminator coming to your home is licensed by the State of Ohio.
4. Bed bugs. Ohio Department of Health says bed bugs don't spread disease, but bed bugs can be annoying. Learning good prevention steps to keep bed bugs out and reporting an infestation, immediately are key. It's much easier to remove if reported early. Over the counter sprays are not effective. A licensed exterminator can use more effective chemicals or heat treatment and can help the household prepare for a treatment. Throwing away belongings (furniture, bed clothes) just spreads the problem. Instead have them treated by the exterminator.
5. Lead poisoning. In rental homes built before 1978, the landlord is required to give prospective tenants a statement of any known lead hazards and a booklet describing lead safe practices. Tenants should get this info before giving money or signing a lease. Households with children under the age of 6 should ask a health provider to give the children a lead test. Ohio requires testing in certain census tracts, but many doctors ignore this duty. Even if you are not in a target census tract, getting tests is important to pick up problems from water or soil or places where children visit.
posted January 22, 2017
Building local resilience
The changes being launched by Congress and the Trump administration risk further unraveling of the social safety net that prevents hunger, eviction, homelessness, and domestic and community disintegration. Advocacy won't save all these programs. Without local efforts to build alternative systems, many Ohio households and communities will continue to lose the human potential for necessary for economic prosperity. Here's a laundry list for acting locally to build resilience.
Housing. Program cuts will mean that tenants will need to take more responsibility for their own households and communities take more responsibility for housing stock.
Activists shouldn't be shy about saying to tenants-you need to do more to protect your household. Tell them "no one will look out for you as well as you will."
Make eviction "safe, legal, and rare" to paraphrase President Bill Clinton. Court reform, court navigators, pay-to-stay rights, and eviction mediation or diversion programs can all serve to keep as many families as possible in their homes.