Community groups say help is available as eviction moratorium expires

Local News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — After multiple extensions, the CDC’s eviction moratorium is set to expire at the end of the day Saturday.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, IMPACT Community Action has been working to keep people in their homes.

“To date, we’ve served over thirteen thousand households and distributed over 30 million dollars,” said Bo Chilton, CEO of IMPACT. “For context, in 2019, we had a budget of $300,000 for emergency rent assistance and served 200 people. In 2021, we have a budget of $105 million and to date, in the past year, we’ve served over 13,000. We’ve been successful in keeping people safe in their homes but we know there’s a lot of worry and concern because the eviction moratorium is coming to an end on Saturday.”

Katrina Strong is one of the people IMPACT has helped stay in her Whitehall home during the pandemic.

“I was a 16-year truck driver. and with my five kids having to be put out of school to do E-learning, I was forced to get off the road and be a full-time mom and teacher. So IMPACT stepped in to help me out with rent because my funds depleted in my savings from just not being able to work,” Strong said. “Things got bad pretty quickly for me considering that as soon as employment ended, I seeked help but considering everyone was seeking help, IMPACT, just like unemployment, everybody, was backed up.”

Strong says as she watched her neighbors go through similar struggles, she worried about what would happen to her family and started asking herself questions she couldn’t answer.

“You just see their stuff out on the street and you’re like, what’s going on? Why aren’t they receiving help or why are all their nice things on the street like this? Then to think … I’m one of these people it’s about to happen to just this same. That’s heartbreaking. That’s a big pill to swallow,” Strong said. “This is my first time having to face eviction. My heart definitely did drop. I didn’t know…do I leave in 3 days? I couldn’t even afford a storage unit so … go where? In three days? Where are my things going to go? Out on the street?”

Zillow estimates 213,406 households in Ohio are behind on rent, projecting there will be 16,695 new eviction filings with 8,807 likely to result in eviction.

That’s despite millions of dollars in federal aid sitting unused across the state.

“We have funds in the hands of state and local governments but these programs can be kind of confusing to navigate for renters and landlords and so that’s going to put a lot of pauses on this and it’s going to make it a lot harder for people to get this funding who need it,” said Nichole Bachaud, Economic data analyst with Zillow.

“There has been a bit of a disconnect in the system from the federal distribution to the states and then the state distributing to the individual non-profits and then the non-profits distributing the dollars to those landlords,” Chilton said. “We have plenty of resources. There is still over 60 million dollars that we have to distribute to the community to support them. and my hope is that we will continue in the same spirit that we have been working with, we’ll continue to work together and try to keep people safe in their homes.”

Chilton says the sooner people who need assistance can apply for it, the better.

“You do not need to wait until you have an eviction. If you’re behind on your rent and you need some help, that’s what we’re here for,” he said. “There is no need to have mass evictions. We have the resources and if we work together, then we can keep everyone safe.”

Strong says no one should be too proud to ask for help either. She did it after thinking of who would be hurt most if she didn’t.

“My children. What do I look like telling them we don’t have a roof over our head? So I don’t have a problem asking ever if I need help, where to find it, where to get it, who do I talk to. I don’t have a problem emailing, texting, reaching out several times just to get the help that I need and I did that,” she said.

IMPACT Community Action has resources available on its website for those seeking assistance.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has also compiled a list of resources to help renters.

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