COLUMBUS –State Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus) and State Rep. Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland) filed the Eviction Crisis Response Act on Monday, which allocates $270 million from Ohio’s rainy-day fund to create a program for immediate rental assistance.
“Families across Ohio that were stable six months ago have been rocked by the ultimate one-time economic emergency,” said Rep. Leland. “We can either spend the money now to help these families get back on their feet or accept the immense personal and economic toll of hundreds of thousands of Ohioans being forced to vacate their homes in the middle of a pandemic.”
The bill does the following:
- Uses $270 million, or just 10% of Ohio’s rainy-day fund, for one-time rent relief.
- Creates a rental assistance program that can be administered smoothly using existing county program structures as well as trusted nonprofits.
- Can pay rent owed all the way back to April 1st, not just a single month’s rent.
- Returns any money that isn’t used to the rainy-day fund after 60 days.
“Every day that goes by without the promise of rental assistance is another day that Ohio families live in fear—fear of losing their homes and having no safe place to go,” said Graham Bowman, a staff attorney specializing in housing policy with the Ohio Poverty Law Center. “Since most courts re-opened in the last month and resumed hearings, Ohioans are being evicted. People are losing their homes and going to unsafe living conditions while the virus is spiking in nearly every Ohio county. But none of this should be happening. The state of Ohio has plenty of emergency funds available to provide rental assistance to the hundreds of thousands of Ohio families who are living on the edge through no fault of their own. This crisis is about to get much worse. We cannot wait any longer hoping Congress will act, so Ohio must.”
With Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC – $600 unemployment additions) expiring last Friday and the federal eviction moratorium now expired, experts are predicting a dire situation for renters in the coming months.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has made hardworking Ohioans vulnerable to evictions from their homes at no fault of their own. My office receives emails on a daily basis from families that are at risk of being evicted while waiting to receive their unemployment benefits,” said Rep. Juanita Brent “We, as a state, need to come up with a process to ensure public health is taken care of while keeping families together. Our promise is to work for you and assure that each and every Ohioan is safe and secure within their homes.”
In US Census Bureau data released this week, one in five Ohio renters answered that they had “no confidence” in their ability to pay August rent. The same data showed that one in four Ohio renters – some 500,000 – were late on July rent or have yet to pay their July rent.
“Move to PROSPER supports the use of the State of Ohio's rainy-day fund to assist Ohioians who are at risk of losing their rental homes through eviction. The pandemic, recession and high unemployment put thousands of people at risk of becoming homeless, creating significant negative impacts on people's physical and mental health which will be more costly to remedy,” said Amy Klaben, Project Facilitator at Move to PROSPER, an affordable housing organization in Columbus. “Access to housing is a basic human need and right that must be addressed for the economic future of our great state. This is an important step.”
The Affordable Housing Coalition of Central Ohio has issued a statement of support for this legislation, which is attached.