Katie Myers | Ohio Valley ReSource

Some residents in Ohio Valley communities are still struggling to keep their heads above water over a year into the pandemic. A main cause of concern: housing.

The federal eviction moratorium ended in late August after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the Biden administration efforts  to extend the moratorium into October. While it lasted, the moratorium preventing eviction for non-payment of rent was the last saving grace for many families. With that protection no longer available, the housing crisis in the region has only gotten more severe. 

Alana Watson of WKU Public Radio sat down with Ohio Valley ReSource reporters Katie Myers and Liam Niemeyer to break down their most recent report on the issue.

Katie Myers

In room 226 of the Relax Inn in Richmond, Kentucky, Melanie and Cody Poore do their best to make themselves at home. Melanie has draped some of her old comforters over the motel’s thin bed covers, and Cody keeps the minifridge stocked with energy drinks he likes.

Beyond the walls, traffic rushes by on I-75; both inside and outside the robin’s egg-blue building, there’s a feeling that this could be any interstate exit in the country, any roadside motel for weary travelers to sojourn on their way from someplace to someplace else.  


But for Melanie and Cody, the Relax Inn was not a one-night stop.  They had been in limbo for over a week, since they were served an eviction by their landlord.




Katie Myers

Jimmy McRoberts knew the North Fork Mobile Home Park was teeming with animals. Some residents, like local grandmother Penny Gozzard, had two or three beloved cats they kept a close eye on; others let their pets roam around and mingle with the neighborhood kids who played around their families’ trailers. So when McRoberts’ entire trailer park was served an eviction notice on March 7, he realized a lot of pets were about to be left behind.

It was a gentle, breezy May evening in the small eastern Kentucky college town of Morehead, Kentucky, when McRoberts told his story outside one of the last trailers in North Fork. By this time, the park was mostly vacated, the high grasses covering left-behind odds and ends, toys and jackets and cigarette packs. Roughly 80 of McRoberts’ neighbors, served with the same eviction notice and a move-out date of April 30, were gone.



Corinne Boyer | Ohio Valley ReSource

Kentuckians who need help paying rent and utilities during the pandemic can now apply for available funds online.

Gov. Andy Beshear announced during a coronavirus briefing Monday that the commonwealth has received $297 million in federal coronavirus relief funds for eviction relief.

“The healthy at home eviction relief fund follows earlier similar efforts to help our people stay in their homes, to pay their bills to landlords and to utilities and to get out of this pandemic without suffering from a significant amount of debt,” he said.

Beshear said tenants and landlords can apply; Tenants have to meet certain requirements. Late fees charges for past due rent must also be forgiven. 


The COVID-19 pandemic has increased stress in many parts of life for families in Kentucky and around the nation.

During pandemic, the 211 hotline in the Daviess County region has received thousands of calls from people looking for assistance on a wide range of concerns.

The 211 contact line connects area residents to community resources on issues including housing, utility bills, food, health care, and mental health services. 

In the past year, the 211 line has received more than 16,000 calls. More than 5,000 of those calls were received in the last 90 days. 

Owensboro Community Development Director Abby Shelton said the majority of calls were related to housing and shelter, with most of those related to rental assistance. She said the pandemic has created a national struggle that’s definitely hit hard in Kentucky.

With hundreds of thousands across the Ohio Valley struggling to make ends meet, a suite of coronavirus aid packages, including rent and utility relief funding, eviction moratoriums, and expanded unemployment benefits, is set to expire at the end of December.

The consequences could be far-reaching. Poverty rates have soared as some federal programs, including the additional $600 in weekly unemployment aid, came to a close. Now, over 75% of Kentucky’s 7,654 independent restaurants are in danger of closing permanently, according to the Independent Restaurant Coalition; one in three West Virginians is at risk of eviction; 16% of Ohioans are behind on their rent. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate is 6.9% ⁠— well below the terrifying peaks of late spring, but twice what it was in February.

Even those who do have cash to spend are being more cautious with it.

Wikimedia Commons

The Kentucky Supreme Court has issued new coronavirus restrictions that will affect courts across the state, including the delay of all jury trials until February.

The mandates come as Kentucky continues to experience a surge in new coronavirus cases. As of Thursday, the state had broken its daily record for new cases four times in the previous nine days.

Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice John Minton wrote in a statement that courts need to restrict activities to protect the public and staff from exposure to the virus.

“People can choose whether to eat at a restaurant or go shopping, but in most instances they don’t get to choose whether they go to court. We have a responsibility to do all we can to keep people from being exposed to a potentially fatal virus,” Minton wrote.

Ryan Van Velzer

An online tool created by a Kentucky non-profit advocacy group is helping protect renters from eviction during the pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) placed a moratorium on evictions until the end of the year to help people battling economic hardships due to the pandemic, as well as prevent additional spread of COVID-19.

The CDC’s eviction protections are only available to people that qualify and after they fill out a declaration. Protection is not automatic. The CDC’s order applies to all renters, including those living in apartments and homes.

Stephanie Wolf

Gov. Andy Beshear told Kentuckians not to get too excited about the low number of new COVID-19 cases Tuesday.

He reported 273 new cases of the coronavirus during his media briefing, bringing the state’s total to approximately 53,319. Beshear said Tuesday’s update is likely low because labs were closed for the Labor Day holiday.

“I would get ready to have very large numbers on both cases and likely deaths the next couple days if not the next four or five days,” he said. “It’s something we ought to be prepared for. That is both the result for where we are right now as a commonwealth, but also just the impact of Labor Day weekend.”

The governor added that those positive results came from a small sample size, just 1,393 tests.

Stephanie Wolf

Gov. Andy Beshear has announced new funding measures to prevent evictions in Kentucky during the pandemic.

At Monday’s press briefing, Beshear outlined the “Healthy at Home Eviction Fund.” The $15 million plan was activated through an executive order, and the money will come from federal coronavirus relief funds.

Kentuckians cannot be “healthy at home without a home”, Beshear said. The eviction crisis has loomed over both renters and landlords in the months since the coronavirus pandemic reached the state.

In that time, Beshear has identified three major concerns.

Lake Cumberland District Health Department/Facebook

Nearly 1 million renter households across the Ohio Valley are unable to pay rent and at risk of eviction, according to research firm Stout. That amounts to 42 percent of renter households in Kentucky, 46 percent in Ohio and 47 percent in West Virginia. 

“The homeless services system is not designed to handle a tsunami of evictions,” said Homeless and Housing Coalition of Kentucky executive director Adrienne Bush in a call with reporters on Thursday. “The capacity doesn’t exist in Kentucky as things stand.”

Evictions have been on hold since March to protect renters who’ve seen their income drop because of the pandemic. But a federal ban ends July 31, as does the state eviction ban in Kentucky. Some renters may still be covered by a patchwork of state and local eviction bans.