Before this crisis, a quarter of renters spent more than half of their incomes on housing, often putting them one emergency away from impossible choices, and even eviction. Now millions of Ohioans are having those emergencies — they’ve lost their job, or they’ve had their hours cut.
Ohioans are facing impossible choices right now between things like rent and groceries, or paying for prescription drugs, or draining their savings. Some don’t have any choice at all and are facing eviction.
It’s a reminder of how vulnerable millions of workers are to a single emergency outside their control, like a missed paycheck or a broken-down car; a trip to the emergency room, or a drug company raising the price of a prescription they rely on.
When we have millions of Ohioans facing these emergencies all at once, through no fault of their own because of a public health crisis, government has to step in with emergency rental assistance.
In March, we passed a 120 day moratorium on some evictions — but it only applied to renters in properties with federal backing, leaving far too many Ohioans behind.
That’s why I introduced a bill to provide emergency assistance to millions of renters. It would establish a fund to help people cover their rent and utility bills, allowing them to stay in their homes and keep their families safe. The bill would distribute funds to states and local governments through an existing federal temporary rental assistance program to help get these funds to Ohio renters quickly.
This bill must be included in the next Coronavirus relief package.
We know renters are more likely to work in the sectors of the economy that are being hit the hardest right now. Millions of workers in retail stores and restaurants and hotels are renters. They’ve been laid off, through no fault of their own, to keep all of us safe.
They shouldn’t also have to worry about being thrown out of their homes. These workers need relief now.
Sherrod Brown is a U.S. senator, representing Ohio. You may contact him at his office in Cleveland, 801 W. Superior Ave., Suite 1400, Cleveland, OH 44113. You may call his office at 216-522-7272 or 1-888-896-6446.