Help available for those facing eviction

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on Ohioans, physically, mentally, and for Jennifer Graham, financially.

“I literally had no income coming in. Unemployment, like a lot of other people was backed up,” said Graham.

Without a steady paycheck from her job, which was put on hold when the pandemic hit, Graham struggled to pay rent and fell two months behind.

“We started getting letters or whatever, saying that they would start the eviction process and what not.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put a hold on landlords putting out their tenants until Dec. 31. Then late last year, lawmakers extended the moratorium to Jan. 31, giving renters more time to figure out their finances. And during that time, Graham found Mediation Services of Central Ohio, which connected her with area programs, to create a financial plan.

“With them providing the help that they did, it was able to get us, pretty much caught up,” said Graham.

Graham and her family avoided eviction. But during the pandemic, Housing Stability Specialist Marcus Salter said Mediation Services has seen an increase in the number of people facing the threat of homelessness, and reaching out to the agency for help.

“This is where I say we’re in a scary time, because we don’t know what to expect,” said Salter.

Salter also said there are steps renters can take, to be prepared for what’s to come, if the government doesn’t step in soon:

  • Don’t wait until January 31 to figure things out.
  • Contact your landlord or property manager now, and get a count of what’s owed.
  • Try to work with them directly to develop a payment plan. And if that doesn’t work, reach out for help.

“Columbus is resource rich, but sometimes we’re connection poor. And we want to make sure people are able to get connected and get the help they need,” said Salter.

Earlier this month, state lawmakers introduced a bill to extend the eviction and foreclosure moratorium for Ohioans. No action has been taken yet.

If you need help figuring out what to do before the current moratorium expires, Community Mediation Services of Central Ohio can link you to available resources.

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