By Ethan Nichols, Staff Writer
Rent prices in Cincinnati hit a record high this year, passing an average of $1,000 a month. Year-to-year asking prices jumped 28.4% in January.
To cope with rent increases, city officials received over $9 million in Emergency Rental Assistance from the federal government. The Cincinnati-Hamilton Community Action Agency (CAA) has assisted in the distribution of those funds.
The CAA has distributed more than $7 million of the funding since June 2021. The Cincinnati City Manager John P. Curp has said that the remaining funds will likely be all used by September.
“We are receiving still about 500 calls a day, clients asking and saying ‘We still need assistance,’” Dr. Ebony Griggs-Griffin, vice president of community services for the CAA, said.
According to the CAA, they have 900 pending applications for assistance. Before the pandemic, CAA received an estimated 50-60 calls a day asking for assistance with rent payments; that number has skyrocketed since the onset of COVID-19.
“Landlords are jacking up prices. Clients are struggling with affordable housing,” Griggs-Griffin 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,” she added.
Garrett Cooper, a sophomore nursing major at Xavier, expressed frustration with Cincinnati’s rising rent prices.
“(I) moved to Cincinnati in 2020. I moved here simply because I fell in love with the city and also I am now attending Xavier University. I wanted to live somewhere that was affordable because I’m a full-time student,” he explained.
“Rent has gone up about a total of $180 – $200,” Cooper said. “On the notice that we just received, they cited the increased demand in housing and the unavailability of the housing.”
Cooper has had to take extra shifts at work to be able to afford rent.
“To make sure I can afford the increase in rent, I find myself working odd hours. It really puts on a strain mentally, and it’s really stressful.”
Sharon St. Clair, a resident of the Cincinnati neighborhood of North College Hill, has lived in her home for 18 years. After recently purchasing her property, the new ownership increased her rent by $125 a month.
“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,” she added.
Cincinnati’s increase in average monthly rent was the 13th highest in the nation, according to a 2022 study from Redfin, a real estate brokerage. It surpassed several larger metropolitan areas including Dallas, Boston, Philadelphia and San Francisco.
In addition, Cincinnati saw the highest rental increase in Ohio and one of the highest in the Midwest. The highest increase was in Portland, Oregon at 39%.