Cincinnati councilman wants to preserve human services from COVID-related cuts

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Posted at 3:12 PM, Apr 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-14 20:27:34-04

CINCINNATI — After the city administration two weeks ago furloughed 1,700 employees, one city lawmaker wants to make sure any future cuts don't include funding for human services programs.

In a motion filed Tuesday, City Councilman Greg Landsman asked City Manager Patrick Duhaney to reevaluate staff cuts to "organizations that are vital and may have life and death implications: food and housing."

Mayor John Cranley announced the cuts late last month, citing projected budget shortfalls as a result of the novel coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19. At Wednesday's City Council meeting, leaders will consider possible funding cuts to such organizations as the Freestore Food Bank, Cincinnati Works and others.

"We cannot leave any of our children, families, and seniors without food and housing," Landsman wrote in the motion, pointing to programs that assist in providing food to low- and no-income families or in preventing evictions.

The Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas, General Division and the Hamilton County Municipal Court limited operations at the Hamilton County Courthouse as of March 16 to accommodate social distancing recommendations. Eviction proceedings were among those suspended across the county, but that does not prevent a landlord from filing for a future eviction against a tenant.

As far as city programs that help people find housing, a new city law went into effect today and gives renters three new options for paying a security deposit if they cannot afford it all at once.

Unemployment claims have skyrocketed across the region and the country due to industry shutdowns amid the pandemic, and with those lost jobs went now lost income tax revenue for the city. Cranley said in order to balance the budget by the end of the fiscal year, June 30, the city would have to reduce some services and temporarily suspend some payroll.

"The number of people being placed on temporary emergency leave is staggering. And it is understandable to be scared by it," Cranley said during his March 30 then-daily coronavirus briefing.