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Thursday, October 7, 2021

New Coalition Calls on Cleveland Mayoral Candidates to Pass Protections for Renters on Day 1

Posted By on Thu, Oct 7, 2021 at 1:20 PM

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A coalition of Northeast Ohio nonprofit organizations has launched a housing justice advocacy campaign calling on Cleveland mayoral candidates Justin Bibb and Kevin Kelley to implement protections for renters on Day 1. 

Enterprise Community Partners, the Fair Housing Center for Rights & Research, Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry, Neighbor Up, the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, Eden, and Cleveland Neighborhood Progress comprise the coalition. 

The advocacy effort, called “Renter Rights on Day 1,” asks the mayoral candidates to commit to introducing Source of Income Protection legislation, Pay to Stay legislation, and to establish a working group that will develop a "Renter Bill of Rights." The coalition asks that these policies be implemented on the new mayor's first day in office.

Source of Income protection legislation would prohibit discrimination by landlords against renters who pay with housing vouchers or other forms of subsidy.

Pay to Stay legislation provides that tenants cannot be evicted based on nonpayment of rent if they can pay the full amount due, plus late fees and court costs, by the time of the eviction hearing. Ohio is currently one of only five states in the country where landlords may file an eviction notice if a renter is even one day late on rent.

There have been efforts, in recent months, to pass Pay to Stay legislation in several Cuyahoga County suburbs. This week, Newburgh Heights joined Lakewood, South Euclid, Euclid and Maple Heights as communities with pay to stay protection. In Cleveland, 60% of residents are renters, and passage of pay-to-say legislation in the county's largest and most important city could create momentum for countywide legislation. 

The renters bill of rights, as envisioned by the coalition, would include even broader tenant protections, including the expansion of the current right to counsel policy, a partnership between Cleveland City Council and the United Way of Greater Cleveland, the expungement of eviction records, increased rental assistance, and guidelines for housing code enforcement to hold negligent landlords accountable and improve housing quality across Cleveland.

As part of the campaign launch, the coalition has created an online petition, with a goal of getting 500 Clevelanders to sign on to support #RentersRightsDay1

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