Amira Khoury, a fourth-year in world politics, has experienced a great deal of financial instability throughout her life.
At 17 years old, she said her family had to leave their home, forget all of their belongings and move into a hotel. Now, as a college student, she said she takes that experience with her and can see how Columbus, especially after the pandemic, is not supporting its houseless community.
She joined around 80 protesters outside the Greater Columbus Convention Center Wednesday to stand in solidarity with those who have experienced houselessness, urging the city to work on its housing crisis.
Since March 15, 2020, over 15,000 evictions have been filed in Columbus, according to Eviction Lab, a nationwide eviction database.
Ohio State’s chapter of Students for a Democratic Society hosted the protest with Columbus Stand Up, National Association of Social Workers in Ohio and Young Democratic Socialists of America.
Protesters had a list of demands, including calls for emergency rent stabilization, an increase in housing for residents who make less than $30,000 a year and an overall increase in the city’s budget for houselessness.
“There needs to be affordable housing,” Khoury said. “Housing is a right, not a privilege. We need to care about the people, not profit.”
Harper, a former candidate for Ohio’s Third Congressional District and founder of Columbus StandUp, said Columbus ignores the reality of the city’s houseless community and instead makes it seem as though there is progress, when there isn’t.
“That’s Columbus, Ohio. That’s the reality of living here,” Harper said. “And a lot of people want to ignore that, and a lot of people want to make it seem that we have big shiny stadiums that are getting built and new apartments that nobody can afford to live in, and that’s what progress looks like, and that’s what success looks like, and we know that we will not accept this.”
Khoury said with the eviction moratorium — a legal delay in evictions from the pandemic — ending July 31, those who continue to experience financial instability are scared of what their future will hold.
Multiple speakers at the event shared personal stories of their experiences with houselessness, including a lack of a place to sleep, no job and a fear for the future. Tianna Frankenfield, a speaker who experienced houselessness, told those in attendance that she is just like everyone else and deserves the right to have a home.
“America doesn’t seem to think homeless people need help. They don’t realize that we’re just human beings,” Frankenfield said.
Mary Kidwell and Jessica Orozco contributed reporting.