To the Editor:
I am writing to urge Athens County Municipal Judge Todd Grace to cease all eviction hearings effective immediately. Turning families and individuals out of their homes is always cruel, but it is particularly heartless during a global pandemic.
I am one of many service workers who recently has been laid off as a result of the coronavirus. My coworkers who were able to keep their jobs are working dramatically reduced hours.
Most of us are still uncertain if or when we will receive state aid. We have lost our health insurance at the worst possible time. But the rent is still due.
Tenants are forced to risk their health simply by showing up to a public eviction hearing, regardless of the outcome. If they are evicted, most people will be forced to move in with friends or relatives, thus increasing everyone’s risk of exposure to the coronavirus. Some people will end up on the streets with no way at all of protecting themselves from exposure.
Municipal Court judges in other districts in Ohio already have suspended all eviction hearings. Judge Grace can and must do the same. I further urge him to work with City Council to suspend rent during the pandemic, so tenants are not forced to pay months of back rent as soon as the impact of the coronavirus has been mitigated.
Carriage Hill Drive
Editor’s note: Judge Grace has said the Athens County Municipal Court has temporarily canceled all hearings (including evictions); those hearings will likely be stayed until at least May. See our story here.