To the Editor:
When I read the article about some who are unemployed having to pay rent regardless of the pandemic, I felt deeply saddened. I think that it is a shame that landlords would resort to such drastic measures such as shutting off utilities or locking tenants out of houses because of tenants’ inability to have the financial means necessary to pay rent.
I have worked in the Athens area for about five and a half years, and many of the jobs that have been available are service industry related such as fast food and restaurant work, which have been greatly impacted by this pandemic. Many businesses have cut employee hours or laid people off in these industries.
I feel like the Athens community should be coming together to provide solutions during this time instead of forcing individuals to further worry about where they may eat or sleep. I have seen or heard about many instances where individuals do not want to stay with their families because of fears of spreading the virus to their loved ones because of their age or medical conditions.
Athens does have the necessary resources to house a large population who may lose homes or rentals. Unemployment also will only provide so much money, and many may also have to decide whether they want to eat or pay their bills.
Landlords and the city of Athens should come together with a solution to this problem such as a relief fund or restrictions on evictions. Landlords who choose to cut off utilities or lock doors should face legal consequences because who else would pay rent anyway if their current tenants cannot, because so many individuals are already unemployed in the state of Ohio. In a time that is already filled with so much uncertainty, it is a shame that many are going to have to face more uncertainty in regards to where they may sleep this month or next. I hope that more landlords and tenants can work together in trying to resolve this issue, and that the city will take action to prevent further devastation to families.
Many of the rentals may be college students who have alternative housing options but many locals may not. Everyone in the Athens community should have a safe place to stay no matter who they may be.
West State Street