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Advocates Call on Ohio Courts to Protect Tenants Facing Eviction

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to block the CDC’s eviction moratorium, housing advocates on Friday urged Ohio judges to ensure access to rent relief to prevent unnecessary evictions while the Delta variant spreads.

The Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio (COHHIO) and the Ohio Poverty Law Center (OPLC) said the U.S. Supreme Court ruling eliminates a tool that helped prevent evictions by allowing more time for tenants to apply for federal Emergency Rental Assistance.

“This rent relief program is a win-win for both tenants and landlords, but the process can take weeks because local agencies are overwhelmed with applications,” said COHHIO Executive Director Bill Faith. “Without a moratorium, we’re concerned that more families will get evicted while waiting for their Emergency Rental Assistance applications to get processed.”

Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor recently sent a letter to local judges recommending they help tenants and landlords access Emergency Rental Assistance to prevent evictions for nonpayment of rent.

COHHIO and OPLC said that local judges should continue to delay individual eviction cases to allow the parties enough time to apply for Emergency Rental Assistance and have the applications processed. Ohio courts have the authority to delay evictions when fairness dictates, especially when money is available to make landlords whole.

“Local courts can prevent a wave of evictions and homelessness this winter by using rent relief to broker agreements that make landlords whole and keep tenants safely housed,” OPLC Attorney Graham Bowman said. “We shouldn’t rush to evict, especially now that assistance is available and the Delta variant is spreading so rapidly in Ohio.”

COHHIO’s recent analysis of court data shows that eviction filings briefly dropped when the pandemic first took hold in 2020, but have since resumed to approximately 65 percent of pre-pandemic levels.

Ohio still has plenty of federal rental assistance funding that will be available through September 2025. Emergency Rental Assistance can cover up to 12 months of rent and utilities arrears and three months forward for tenants impacted by the pandemic.

Ohioans who are concerned about not being able to pay rent should immediately apply for rent relief. There is a statewide directory of local Emergency Rental Assistance programs on COHHIO’s website.