Bringing Stability to Renters in Syracuse: Reducing Evictions

This post is the second in a series of three about the Innovation Team’s housing stability initiatives. To read the first post, go here.

Reduce Evictions

An average of 11,000 residents are evicted each year in Syracuse. According to Maxwell’s Community Benchmarks program, that’s approximately 13-16.7% of our renter population. The largest cause of eviction is the tenant’s inability to pay their rent on time. In Syracuse, almost 55% of our renters spend 30% or more of their income on housing costs, including rent and utilities. This rate of housing cost burden is well over 60% in some of our census tracts.

To start to address the eviction rate in Syracuse, the i-team worked with the Department of Neighborhood and Business Development, the City’s Corporation Counsel, local legal aid organizations, and City Innovate’s Startup in Residence Program to create three initiatives.

Eviction Prevention Case Management

Image from Reuters/Larry Downing

Image from Reuters/Larry Downing

The Department of Neighborhood and Business Development conducted a pilot program with the Syracuse Housing Authority (SHA) and Clinton Plaza Apartments, in which proactive interventions are conducted when tenants are within days of falling behind on their rent. Case workers initiate contact with tenants and coordinate with the landlord to get them back on track and avoid eviction. In the pilot, eviction petitions have been reduced by 75% at SHA, and Clinton Plaza Apartments has saved over $100,000 in eviction and turnover costs. The City is working to expand this program to other complexes.

Startup in Residence (STIR): Crowdfunding for Emergency Housing Expenses

Credit Scott Willis /   WAER News

As a participant in the Startup in Residence program, the City is working with Vite Labs, a blockchain startup company, to create a crowdfunding platform to assist residents with emergency housing expenses. The platform allows community members with financial means to contribute money to a pool, that residents-in-need can access to cover expenses such as security deposits, utility bills, gap rent, and other moving expenses. Donors receive SyraCoins for contributing, which can be redeemed at participating local businesses as coupons.

Eviction & Rental Registry

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The city and local stakeholders are identifying and developing mechanisms to require that landlords have a valid rental registration before filing for an eviction. Some ways to potentially accomplish this include developing a local court rule, or making a change to Syracuse’s rental registry legislation.

Join us tomorrow as we discuss the third set of housing initiatives, aimed at connecting residents to housing resources! Download the full list of initiatives below.