May 2020 Newsletter

Housing Stability During the COVID-19 Pandemic

On April 22, OPLC released its report “Providing Stability to Ohio’s Housing Market During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” The report highlighted Ohio’s patchwork approach to suspending evictions during the crisis and the looming eviction crisis that will likely follow once eviction moratoriums are lifted.

Even when evictions are on hold, rent payments are not. Ohio needs a centralized approach to address the needs of renters who are facing unemployment and financial instability as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and Ohio’s stay-at-home order. Without resources to stabilize the rental housing market, Ohio will likely see an increase in evictions making it hard for Ohioans to re-enter the workforce as the economy recovers. The report calls for additional state and federal resources to be dedicated to rental assistance.

OPLC Joins Partners to Call for Health Equity in Data, Decision-Making, and Implementation of COVID-19 Efforts  

Ohio has one of the worst health outcomes by race and ethnicity nationally. Recent data shows how overall health status outcomes are 1.3 times worse for Black Ohioans and many pre-existing health conditions that make individuals susceptible to serious illness and death from the coronavirus are over-represented in communities of color because of long-term disinvestment in these communities.   In a letter to the DeWine Administration, which was signed by the Ohio Poverty Law Center, the Ohio Federation of Teachers, Advocates for Ohio’s Future, UHCAN Ohio, the Center for Community Solutions, and Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio, stated, “We are all in this together – so long as the same opportunities for optimal health and wellbeing are shared among all Ohioans and essential health care services are provided to those most in need and provision is not based on our individual race, ethnicity or income.”  

Without direct action to address the needs and challenges of people who have been historically marginalized, Ohio will leave many people far worse off than others. If Ohio does not make the effort to collect data and examine it based on race, ethnicity, and geography, we will never effectively address decades of marginalizing policies and will only perpetuate them into the future. For example, while we can already see that Black Ohioans are disproportionately represented in the number of hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19, we do not know the full scope of the problem because nearly a quarter of cases have no reported race or ethnicity.

 Price Gouging

Attorney General Dave Yost is working with the legislature to give him more authority to go after businesses who are engaging in price gouging. Senate Bill 301 was introduced by Senators Nathan Manning and Steve Wilson. The bill makes changes to the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices and states that it shall be an unconscionable act or practice for a supplier to offer for sale or sell consumer goods or services that are directly or indirectly related to the state of emergency or necessary to preserve, protect, or sustain the life, health, or safety of persons or their property during the time of the emergency at a price grossly in excess of the price at which such goods were sold or offered for sale immediately prior to the state of emergency.