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is the Rental Housing Information Network in Ohio
February 28, 1827 – The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad is incorporated, becoming the first railroad in America offering commercial transportation of both people and freight.

RHINO motto for 2017--"Whether I rent or own, where I live is my home."
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Someone Else's Problem

    Wake up, local communities! Your solution to every community need seems to be "go slow, don't rock the boat, and wait for someone else to fix it." The meaning of the 2016 election is no one else will help you and the natives are restless. Focusing on shiny objects to amuse the tourists is not a solution. Communities are not eye candy, they are places where people live and work. Calling on the residents' strengths to enable them to overcome the community's weaknesses is the equation for success.

      James Arentson, in NextCity writes: "The first and most important step is ongoing dialog, a cross-sector exchange of ideas from government officials, business people and residents alike. This kind of genuine, honest, communication happened more organically prior to the 21st century, but today we need to be more intentional about it. We can’t rely solely on surveys and statistics."

     Cleveland's un-policy about the tragedy of lead poisoning is a classic example of go-slow-ism. But Mayor Jackson's unfortunate remark that code enforcement would make three-quarters of the residents homeless is not just wrong, it's insulting to landlords and tenants. Where's that community dialogue on housing needs and solutions? Mayoral aide Natoya Walker-Minor told a City Club audience last October that the problem was "intersectionality." Sorry Ms. Walker-Minor. The problem is poisoned babies. Mr. Mayor, don't let the moral dilemma keep you up at night, share it with your community. Here are  the choices: "lead, follow, or get out of the way".

    Tenants and their advocates don't get off the hook either. Tenants rightfully fear retaliation if they complain about unsafe conditions, but making a change is possible. Advocates can help by demanding legal representation for tenants who are willing to complain. Private attorneys generally avoid representing tenants because there's no money is a retaliation claim. That creates a vicious cycle. No retaliation claims, no judgements with attorney fees and so the tenants hare defenseless and "the community" concludes that "everything is OK" or that "tenants choose to rent sh*tholes."

    The failure to protect the youngest citizens is not about bad landlords, bad tenants or bad leaders. The problem is bad policies resulting from civic lethargy.

  1. Bad things might happen if we enforce standards. Bad things are happening now. If code enforcement has some side effects, then fix them! No one throws away life saving medicine because of bad side effects. In 19th century New York, the landlords lobby was convinced that requiring a window in every room of a tenement building would create an economic collapse.'

  2. Inspection won't fix everything, so why bother? Lead safe housing won't prevent every case of poisoning. It won't address lead in water. But it's a start.

  3. The City needs to inspect every property for every health and safety violation. Targeting inspections on the highest risk properties will provide the greatest outcomes in the shortest time. Expect voluntary compliance from sensible landlords and go after the bad actors aggressively. If tenants get displaced from the "sh*tholes," at least there will be a lead safe house nearby.

  4. It's someone else's problem. This is an especially pernicious attitude because it really means it's not my problem. Satirist author Douglas Adams imagined the ultimate "invisibility" device which he called: SEP (Someone Else's Problem). As soon as the SEP was turned on, no one could see the spaceship in front of them. Because everyone pays the cost of lead poisoning, it's everyone's problem.

Sensible code enforcement that protects and respects families who have few rental choices honors the needs of the citizens and not the interests of the tourists who are drawn by a museum, a nightclub, a casino or a chandelier.

What do you want to do? 
Mary Clark responds to CityScape story on Slumlords in Cincinnati.
"As an agent with a background in rental housing, especially multifamilies, I have always wondered what we can do to bring standards to investment and how to mandate some kind of education for any entity or person planning on purchasing rental housing in Ohio. This is a complicated situation but the lack of education for prospective investors seems to be an important aspect which is overlooked." Read more here.

Need more news?

Affordable in Ohio is a five part series in November 2015 looks at affordability issues in Ohio. here

Affordable in Ohio here

Change in the Air here

Eviction in Ohio here

What's News (recent stories from all around)


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