Columbus will partner with two local organizations to help people navigate eviction court and hopefully avoid filings in the first place. Local leaders announced the $300,000 investment on Tuesday.
The bulk of the funding will go toward the Legal Aid Society of Columbus, which helps tenants facing evictions. City Council member Shayla Favor says the other third of the money will go to IMPACT Community Action, a non-profit offering direct support with rent or mortgage payments.
“IMPACT is going to be able to help at least 90 families, if not more,” Favor says. “What I was explaining earlier is that it’s more than just providing assistance for one month, this is about providing case management for the next six to nine months with a family.”
In 2018, nearly 18,000 evictions were filed in Franklin County. More than 14,000 have been filed so far this year.
Latisha Chastang, who heads up IMPACT’s emergency services department, says the organization maintains a relationship with its clients to help ensure they’re housing is stable.
“What we find sometimes is they come in for rent and mortgage assistance, they’ll come in maybe a week later for utility assistance,” she says. “If we were able to catch them at that initial point of contact, we could’ve addressed some of those other housing needs.”
Favor notes that rents continue to rise in Columbus, but wages aren't keeping up, meaning more and more face housing insecurity in the city. Favor wants to be proactive and find people facing housing instability early.
“The hope is that we’re able to catch people before an eviction is filed,” she says. “Once somebody is in court, that’s when we’ve got to call on folks like our colleagues at the Legal Aid Society to provide that actual legal assistance, but my hope is that we’re able to help people before they get into that situation.”
Franklin County also offers direct short-term assistance for tenants who find themselves falling behind on rent.