Criminal Justice Press Release

04.30.20

ACLU of Ohio, NEOCH, and Fair Housing Center Call on Governor DeWine to Prevent Mass Evictions Amid COVID-19

Gavel Laying On Side

COLUMBUS  — The ACLU of Ohio and the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, and the Fair Housing Center for Rights and Research sent a letter to Governor DeWine urging him to issue or expand statewide moratoria against evictions and utility shut-offs and commit to preventing mass evictions after these moratoria end.

Across the nation, the COVID-19 pandemic has already resulted in widespread and devastating economic consequences, as unemployment claims continue to climb. In the face of staggering unemployment numbers and climbing medical costs, millions of people living in the United States—and over 3.5 million renters living in Ohio—face the imminent threat of losing their homes or access to utility service The ACLU is calling for the prevention of mass evictions in the midst of this global COVID-19 public health crisis.

“With the first of the month rapidly approaching, it is critical that Governor DeWine act quickly to protect vulnerable Ohio residents against eviction and utility shut-offs,” said Jocelyn Rosnick, Policy Director at the ACLU of Ohio. “All residents — regardless of their circumstances or background — should have access to safe and stable housing throughout the course of this ongoing public health crisis.”

“Throughout Ohio, families are still being evicted and forced into overcrowded shelters where physical distancing is impossible. Shelters have always been an inappropriate response from families but during COVID-19 they are downright dangerous. Keeping people in their housing through a comprehensive eviction moratorium is the best homeless prevention policy that Governor DeWine can implement,” added Chris Knestrick, Executive Director for the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless. 

“Governor DeWine must take this important step to protect Ohio families who have been hit hardest COVID-19 and ensure they are able to safely remain in their homes,” added Carrie Pleasants, Executive Director for the Fair Housing Center for Rights and Research.

The organizations call on Governor DeWine to issue a comprehensive moratorium that will:

  • Halt every stage of the eviction process;
  • Continue to prevent mass evictions during and after the pandemic;
  • Apply to all types of tenants and lease violations;
  • Prohibit the collection of late fees and retaliation against tenants who assert their rights under the moratorium;
  • Prohibit utility shut-offs and require restoration of previously disconnected services.

The ACLU has worked over the years to address unfair eviction screening policies, which disproportionately undermine housing opportunities for women of color and will present a barrier to safe housing opportunities if mass evictions take place.

Read the letter.