At midnight on Saturday, the federal eviction moratorium ended, threatening the lives of millions of Americans, including many here in Cincinnati. Homelessness will be accelerated as families will be forced from their homes, worsening the housing crisis. The eviction moratorium was issued to help protect people who had lost income due to COVID19 only, so evictions continued through the pandemic, even accelerating in some areas in Ohio. While the inaction of the federal government to extend the moratorium will have disastrous effects for families in Cincinnati, especially Black families, it also signals the end of COVID19 federal housing protections; however, aid is still available at https://513relief.org/.
In addition to ensuring families who lost income due to COVID19 could stay in their homes, the moratorium encouraged landlords and tenants to work together to seek out federal aid for housing costs. Unfortunately, with the expiration of the moratorium, federal aid earmarked for Cincinnati may go unspent. This is a great loss of value, wealth, and potential for Cincinnati.
Essentially, with the moratorium expired, the loss of income from COVID19 will no longer be a valid defence in eviction court. While claims of a worker shortage seem to contradict the experience of people looking for work, without a livable wage, minimum wage earners, mostly in their 30’s with children, are unable to afford a 2-bedroom apartment while working full time. Evictions are more likely to be filed on Black residents due to racism and systemic housing barriers presented to Black Cincinnatians – the same barriers that privileged white Cincinnatians for generations. Most importantly, since the pandemic hit Black families the hardest, economically and otherwise, allowing the moratorium to expire will cause immeasurable pain and suffering in Black communities by accelerating displacement and increasing homelessness. Whether a family is forced to double-up, couch surf, seek shelter, or live in dangerous places, homelessness has dire consequences for children in school, health and safety, and community stability. Eviction creates additional barriers, as records follow people throughout their lifetime, making housing even more difficult to obtain. Eviction pushes people further into poverty, and without strong tenant protections, our community is at risk.
We urge all of our elected officials to strengthen tenant protections by extending the eviction moratorium, and by creating Pay-to-Stay protections, sealing eviction records, and ensuring just-cause eviction policies, among other tenant protections. Housing protections, in addition to livable wages and affordable housing, are how we can eradicate homelessness in Cincinnati.
Housing is a human right. Even before the pandemic hit, we were in the midst of a housing crisis, where half of all of the Black families in Hamilton County were housing cost burdened, spending more than 30% of their income on housing. COVID19 has accelerated the disparity between Black and white Cincinnatians, and the eviction moratorium expiration will have long-lasting effects on our community. For far too long, our member organizations have been providing life-saving services, but now it is time for our elected officials to fully support the affordable housing trust fund and require property-owners to respect the rights of all of our neighbors.
If you’d like to learn more about the housing crisis and homelessness, please engage in our public education program with a Speaker, Tour, or Training, subscribe to our email lists on our webpage, and pick up a Streetvibes newspaper from a community distributor. Join the Homeless Coalition as an individual or organization today.