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Homeless coalition calls for a statewide hold on COVID-19 related evictions

Posted at 8:56 PM, Apr 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-20 23:34:39-04

CLEVELAND — The Northeast Ohio Coalition For the Homeless is calling on Ohio Governor Mike DeWine to place a 90-day moratorium on evictions, in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The coalition is now sharing the stories of renters online, who are facing COVID-19 related evictions due to the loss of a job, financial hardship or the inability to find adequate childcare.

Molly Martin, Director of Strategic Initiatives with the coalition, told News 5 more than 700 residents signed a letter sent to the governor, calling for evictions to be put on-hold, the letter was backed by more than 80 other Ohio agencies.

Martin said if residential evictions aren't temporarily suspended soon, more local residents will become homeless, further stressing a homeless shelter system that is already at full capacity.

"People who are one paycheck from becoming homeless, got laid-off, or the unemployment was backed up, or they didn’t receive a stimulus check, that poses a real risk to the homeless system in Cleveland," Martin said.

“Once you start talking to real people and hearing their stories, I think that might be only way to humanize the problem and to share it among people who can relate."

"Thousands and thousands of people in Ohio alone that are in this window, who are totally at risk, not knowing how they’re going to pay for their rent.”

Joy Foree is a Bedford Heights mother who shared her eviction story on the coalition website.

Foree said she had been having rent difficulties in the past but the coronavirus pandemic has compounded her problems.

She said she lost her job due to the COVID-19 pandemic, can't pay rent, is facing eviction and can't find childcare for her 7-year-old daughter, who is now home from school.

“I was laid-off and sent home from my job because of COVID-19 and then I lost my childcare when schools decide to close," Foree said.

"Governor Mike DeWine be sensitive to the issue and do what the landlords will not do and put some protections in place for the renters.”

Meanwhile Martin said she doesn't believe H.B. 562, now under considerationwill adequately place a hold on residential evictions, if or when it's passed.

Martin believes it's up to the governor to issue a moratorium she's hoping will give options to renters who are facing coronavirus related financial difficulties.

“What does it look like to accept late payments or partial payments, or to prohibit late fees for a while," Martin said.

“The reality is that 60% of Americans don’t have any more than $500 in savings, and that’s less than a months rent for most people.”