The Centers for Disease Control has again extended the deadline for the federal eviction moratorium which was scheduled to expire at the end of June. This new extension, which pushes the eviction hold until July 31, will be the final extension according to a release from the CDC.
The moratorium began back on Sept. 4, 2020 as a way to decrease the spread of COVID-19 by preventing evictions of renters behind on their payments. By halting evictions, this kept otherwise vulnerable people from being sent out on the streets or into congregate settings like homeless shelters, making them unable to properly isolate in the event they became sick with the virus. Originally, the halt was scheduled to end on January 31, 2021 but was first extended to March 31 and then June 30 as the virus continued to pose a threat.
Susan Choe, executive director at Ohio Legal Help, told The Messenger that about 210 people from Athens County have accessed the information listed on their website about the moratorium and about 100 have taken the next step and accessed the form.
Reasons behind the approximate 50 percent drop from learning about the program to actually applying range from realization that they aren’t eligible and instead are hoping to work out a solution with their landlords to waiting to apply at a later date. With the final deadline a month away, there is little time left to wait.
Choe is encouraging those who are struggling to make rent or mortgage payments to not hesitate in applying and reach out to their local community action entity.
“This can take time, your landlord has to agree to take the money. You need to take this action now,” said Choe.
According to Choe, the demographics who have suffered the most setbacks are single mothers, in particular single mothers of color. The pandemic only exacerbated these issues and kicked them into overdrive.
“These are folks who are working full time jobs and are living paycheck to paycheck. That creates this cycle where you’re robbing Peter to pay Paul and it’s almost impossible to catch up,” explained Choe.
These funds were made available through the stimulus bill meaning the funds are grants and do not have to be paid back.
Reaching out to the landlord is also a potentially helpful course of action. Part of the process for getting rent paid through this assistance is that the landlords have to agree to accept those funds. Since they own the property, they can refuse to take funds as a means to get old tenants out once the moratorium ends.
Further complicating the situation is the fact that some courts have interpreted the orders as to allow eviction notices to be filed but not acted upon. This means that even if someone who has had an eviction notice filed on them pays their back rent through assistance funds, that eviction will continue to stay on file thus making it more difficult to find future housing.
For those who have struggled since the pandemic began, the assistance can stretch back all the way to then if the funds are available. In order to get access to those funds, anyone with need is encouraged to reach out to their local community action group.
For Athenians, that entity would be the Hocking, Athens, Perry Community Action. Anyone looking for help with rental, mortgage, or utility assistance should reach out via phone to (740) 767-4500 or (800) 686-1093. They can also be reached by email at email@example.com.