COVID-19 Update – Bracing for significant increase in homelessness

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its direct economic impact, the number of families seeking assistance has greatly increased. Our Central Access Point Helpline, the centralized shelter placement helpline for Greater Cincinnati, has experienced a 25% increase in calls for assistance from April to June 2020.

Also, the operations of our local shelters have been negatively impacted by COVID-19, leading to people having more trouble getting into shelters. This fact has resulted in a 13% decline in the number of people served in shelters through August 2020 compared to last year, and a 35% increase in the number of people sleeping unsheltered on the streets in the same timeframe.

The CARES Act funding made available by Hamilton County to assist families facing eviction expires on 12/31/2020, but many households will find themselves on the brink of homelessness beyond 2020. On September 1st, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an order to temporarily halt evictions through the end of the year. Read more about the CDC Eviction Moratorium, here.

A temporary halt we agree with, as evictions threaten to increase the spread of coronavirus because they force people to move or go into shared living situations or group settings like our local homeless shelters. However, the halt is not automatic. The order puts the responsibility on the renter to ensure they meet the criteria and to provide a signed written statement to their landlord in order to invoke the protection.

Rent is not canceled, nor forgiven. On January 1st, 2021 renters will be required to pay back rent and landlords may opt to collect rent in one lump sum. Strategies to End Homelessness will continue to seek funding to provide assistance to these households we know will be struggling for help in 2021 and 2022.

Based on all of the above, we are bracing for a large number of evictions and a significant increase in homeless in 2021.

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