CINCINNATI — Soaring rental rates continue to affect Tri-State residents.
“I moved to Cincinnati in 2020. I move here simply because I fell in love with the city and also I am now attending Xavier University,” said Garrett Cooper, who lives in Westwood. “I wanted to live somewhere that was affordable because I’m a full-time student.”
At the time, it was affordable. But that’s not necessarily the case anymore.
“Rent has gone up about a total of $180 to $200," Cooper said. "On the notice that we just received, they cited the increased demand in housing and the unavailability of the housing."
To make ends meet, Cooper has had to pick up extra shifts as a nurse's aid.
“To make sure I can afford the increase in rent, I find myself working odd hours," he said. "It really puts on a strain mentally and it’s really stressful."
Cooper isn’t alone in feeling the pinch. According to a report compiled by commercial real estate group CBRE, the average rent for a market-rate apartment in Cincinnati has increased 17% from 2020 to 2021. And the group predicts rent to increase between 6 and 7% in 2022.
Inflation, the pandemic and a shortage in housing supply all play a part.
“We are receiving still about 500 calls a day, clients asking and saying we still need assistance,” said Dr. Ebony Griggs-Griffin, VP of Community Services for the Community Action Agency.
The agency partnered with both the City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County to administer rental assistance.
Specifically, the City of Cincinnati received more than $9 million from the federal government in Emergency Rental Assistance. The CAA has helped distribute more than $7 million of that funding to people in need since June of 2021. According to an FYI Memo from the city manager, the remaining money will likely be exhausted by the September 2022 deadline.
The CAA has 900 pending applications for assistance, which can be used for rental and utility payments.
“It is imperative for people to understand the impact of the pandemic has not subsided," Griggs-Griffin said. "It is still here, and we’re seeing it not only with the phone calls every day, but the amount of people still putting in applications."
Griggs-Griffin estimated prior to the pandemic, the CAA would receive 50 to 60 calls a day with questions about rental assistance.
“Landlords are jacking up prices. Clients are struggling with affordable housing,” she said. “We weren’t seeing it prior to the pandemic, we’re seeing it now. I think it’s a possibility some landlords are taking advantage of the fact the moratorium is lifted. We can evict some people and it’s an opportunity to hike up prices. Or, it’s also landlords that may be struggling. Inflation is serious right now.”
Sharon St. Clair has lived in her North College Hill apartment for 18 years. The property was recently purchased and the new ownership increased her monthly rent by $125.
“I hope to God my car doesn’t need any kind of maintenance, I hope I don’t get sick,” St. Clair said. “It’s heart-sickening, it’s nerve-wracking. It affects you physically to the point I almost thought I was going to go to the hospital. Where are you going to go? What are you going to do? Packing up and leaving because you can’t afford the rent.”
Anyone in need of rental, utility or mortgage assistance is encouraged to visit https://www.cincy-caa.org/.
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