Leaders Call on Ohio to Follow Other States in Freezing Move-Outs and Utility Disconnections as well as Providing Emergency Housing Funding
Sign saying Housing is a human right

Yesterday, the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless delivered a letter to the Governor’s office signed by 80 organizations and leading individuals from across the state calling for a state-wide moratorium on evictions and utility shut-offs, and an immediate influx of emergency housing dollars.

The letter states that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic demands urgent need for immediate state-wide action.  “We have already seen shelter-in-place orders come from the Bay Area and it seems other large cities are next. We cannot possibly put quarantine measures in place at the same time that we forcibly remove Ohioans from their homes, for any reason, or make it impossible for them to remain there because of utility disconnections” said Demitra Brown, Housing Justice Co-Chair of the Cleveland Democratic Socialists of America.

This situation is moving quickly. Just yesterday, we saw the President ask for a freeze on evictions and foreclosures for HUD-connected homeowners.  We need consistency and clarity across the state. Those measures should also apply to low-income renters, who are particularly vulnerable during this crisis. This is no time to be evicting people or shutting off utilities.

“Ohio, led by Governor Mike DeWine and Director of Public Health Dr. Amy Acton, has been leading the nation in responding to COVID-19” said Rebecca Maurer, an attorney and housing advocate based in Cleveland. “We are asking that they lead yet again on this issue. There should be no more move-outs and no more utility disconnections until the economy has stabilized and the health risk has dissipated.”

The letter explains that the evictions and move-outs are a risk not only to those who are moved, but to the entire, already-strained shelter systems across the state.  Each family that is moved may end up in the shelter system as rentals and economic activity slows down because of social distancing. Crowding the shelters and adding new individuals creates the type of health risk the State of Ohio is trying to avoid. It is critical that we prioritize homelessness prevention resources to minimize any new shelter entries during this time period.

The letter to Governor Mike DeWine and the list of signatories is attached.