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Sen. Portman Introduces Bill Aimed At Preventing Evictions

Ohio U.S. Senator Rob Portman
J. Scott Applewhite
Associated Press

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) is proposing a bill that would track nationwide data on evictions and pump more money into an emergency assistance fund that would help tenants cover their rent.

The bipartisan Eviction Crisis Act would also beef up housing stability-related services such as aid for legal representation and mediation.

Bill Faith, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, says a small amount of money to avoid evictions can help families sidestep a downward spiral to potential homelessness.

"If they lose their housing it could interrupt the school, it could interrupt the parent's job, they could lose their belongings it just is a cumulative impact on that family," Faith says.

He adds that the money used to avoid evictions is a small amount compared to the funds used for homelessness services.

The Ohio Housing Finance Agency reported in 2017 there were 105,150 evictions filed in the state, accounting for 6.7% of all renter households.

Faith says there are bad actors in Ohio who try to illegally evict their tenants knowing they don't have the money to fight back in court. Faith believes increasing the ability to mediate will result in a drop off of evictions in Ohio and create a smoother process for the rest of the cases.

"It just levels the playing field cause they want to expedite the process they don’t want to have some drawn out battle so they'll try to work out an accommodation," says Faith.

The bill in the U.S. Senate is also sponsored by Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) and has the support of Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.