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HOME IN AKRON: The Real Impact Akron's Rental Housing Has on the City

The downtown area of Akron has been experiencing a surge in new businesses and development.
The downtown area of Akron has been experiencing a surge in new businesses and development.

When it comes to quality of life, one of the most basic things is having a place to call home. A new media partnership in Akron wants to tell the stories of Akron residents  and the challenges they face when it comes to housing. Home in Akron is a collaboration involving The Devil Strip, WEWS-TV, the Beacon Journal, the Center for Investigative Reporting and WKSU.

Akron Beacon Journal reporter Doug Livingston says rental housing is one of the biggest problems in the city. He says rental rates have been rising while incomes have not.  

Livingston has talked with both tenants and landlords about the situation. 

A landlord's struggle

Livingston spoke with an Akron landlord who had rented a property to an individual who subsequently invited two others to move in with him. He then moved out. The two squatters remained and, as Livingston learned, can become tenants after just two weeks, even though the landlord has no signed rental agreement with them. She's now working to take back her property.    

“You’ve got to go through the legal eviction process, which is a hot topic in Akron because we know from an Eviction Lab study from Princeton University that there is a belief that Akron has the highest eviction rate in the state,” Livingston said.

Tenants with landlord problems

A story coming out Sunday features a 40-year-old Akron man who is dealing with a negligent landlord. Livingston says the man has some real concerns about the safety of this  apartment.

“He’s sleeping on the couch," Livingston said. "He’s afraid that his bedroom is going to collapse into the basement where the bottom course of block is crippled and buckling. Above him there was water damage and he is waiting for the tenant upstairs to come crashing down on him so he is sleeping on the couch,” Livingston said. 

A need for media collaboration

Livingston says the collaboration between the four media organizations allows more resources and reporters to focus on the topic and provides opportunities to reach and engage with different audiences.  

“The last thing I want to do is leave the community with problems and no answers, questions and no answers, problems and no solutions. So we want to build sustainable platforms, sustainable communication that connect residents, connect people that are dealing with an issue with somebody who is already solving it,” Livingston said.

This partnership builds on a series of community meetings the four media partners participated in last Spring. A series of open meetings is in the works for the next month or two, which will give residents from around Akron the chance to share their concerns and questions about housing in the city. The goal is to make sure this media collaboration is answering the questions that Akron residents have about their housing.

Home in Akron is a collaboration involving The Devil Strip, WEWS-TV, the Akron Beacon Journal, the Center for Investigative Reporting and WKSU.

Editor's note: This story has been udpated to include The Center for Investigative Reporting as a member of the collaborative.

Copyright 2021 WKSU. To see more, visit WKSU.

Andrew joined WKSU News in 2014. He oversees the daily operations of the WKSU news department and its reporters and hosts, coordinates daily coverage, and serves as editor. His commitment is to help foster reporting that marks the best of what public radio has to offer: a mix of first-rate journalism with great storytelling. His responsibilities also include long-term strategic planning for news coverage in Northeast Ohio that serves WKSU’s audience via on-air, online, by social media and through emerging technologies. You can also hear Andrew on-air daily as the local host for Here and Now, Fresh Air, and The World.
Amanda Levine is currently a senior journalism major with a minor in sports administration. Prior to being an intern at WKSU, Amanda has experience as both a reporter and an editor. She was a sports reporter for the Kent Stater and eventually, an Assigning Editor. She also has experience covering campus activism and the 2019 government shutdown.