I spent most of my time this week making more calls to residents to gain an understanding of their current financial situation and their experiences with Homeport. I have started to observe a few emerging trends in the responses, which helps me to see the bigger picture of how Gifts of Kindness and Homeport’s services work together to help people facing eviction. These calls are incredibly insightful, but also sometimes difficult. Many residents are in extremely tough situations, and some don’t wish to share those experiences with a stranger over the phone. While my primary goal may be to complete the surveys, the true goal is to listen and try to understand the situations that residents are in.
On Thursday, we attended the announcement of an eviction study for Columbus. The city of Columbus, Franklin County, and the Ohio State University’s John Glenn College of Public Affairs (shout out to JGCPA!) are teaming up to try to understand Columbus’ startling eviction rate. As Councilmember Jaiza Page said at the announcement, “this study not an indictment of anyone, it is a chance to come together”. As I listen to the stories of Homeport’s residents, it is becoming even more clear that this is a huge issue in Columbus that impacts thousands of our city’s residents, and it is exciting to hear that the city is seeking to understand it.
Next week I’ll be entering the data from all the different sources and data bases to start analyzing. I’m interested to see what the numbers reveal, especially after hearing and collecting so many stories. Existing studies and data show that nearly 20,000 evictions are filed each year in Columbus, but behind that number are 20,000 individuals and families. 20,000 people forced to leave their homes. 20,000 different stories. It could be a retired school worker, a woman who fell victim to domestic violence, a single mother with an autistic son. I know because these are the stories that I’ve heard.