The Greater Ohio Policy Center (GOPC) has released Local Interventions for Eviction Prevention and Why They Are Needed, a guide for laying the groundwork to support Ohio renters and prevent evictions related to the COVID-19 crisis.

Experts anticipate a tsunami of evictions to begin in January 2021. Given the limited state dollars available and the uncertainty of additional federal dollars, local governments must take the lead to protect their residents.

This Working Paper profiles interventions from around the state in order to provide ideas and templates for communities that need housing stabilization programming.

In the early months of the pandemic, a patchwork of local and federal responses cushioned renters from the worst impacts of the economic fallout. These include a sweeping order from the CDC, which temporarily halts evictions nationwide through the end of the calendar year. The CDC eviction moratorium provides breathing room for low- and moderate-income renters, but by itself does not provide any economic relief for tenants or property owners.

Without additional state, federal, or local intervention, communities that rely exclusively on the CDC moratoriums to prevent eviction spikes are merely postponing the wave of mass evictions to the new year.  As troubling, the moratorium puts at risk large numbers of small and local landlords, who could lose the capital necessary to maintain housing market solvency.

A combination of evictions and landlord bankruptcy could devastate hundreds of neighborhoods, but there are actions that communities can take now to avoid a worst-case scenario. Most importantly, communities can use locally-allocated federal money for direct renter assistance programs and to increase legal access for renters facing eviction.

Guidance from both the state and federal government specify that money from the CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund can be used for rent, utility, and food assistance. Additionally, communities can pool money from Community Development Block Grant – Coronavirus Funds (CDBG-CV), Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG), FEMA, and local sources to seed a Rental Assistance Program.

There are also a number of non-monetary policies that local communities can enact to complement rent assistance programs and bolster efforts to avoid renter displacement. These can include longstanding interventions, like source of income protection for renters, or novel initiatives like a Pay to Stay ordinance. Many communities around the state have already acted to help renters and landlords avoid eviction; these are highlighted in community spotlights throughout the working paper.

Prioritizing investments and programming to stabilize families, ensure fiscal sustainability of housing providers, and mitigate the worst effects of the crisis will require cooperation between local governments, nonprofits, philanthropy, and private sector leaders.

To view the working paper, please click here.