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Group Protests Effort to Reopen Eviction Court Proceedings

A small protest took place Thursday outside the United States Courthouse in Covington on Thursday in response to a legal effort to reopen eviction proceedings in Kentucky.

Three apartment community owners and the Greater Cincinnati Northern Kentucky Apartment Association (GCNKAA) filed suit against Governor Andy Beshear and the circuit court clerks of Boone, Kenton, and Campbell counties on Tuesday to allow landlords to evict tenants for nonpayment of rent.

Beshear shut down evictions in state circuit courts as part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic impact the coronavirus has had on individuals.

But the property owners and apartment association argue that some tenants are taking advantage of the pandemic.

Ben Carter, a lawyer with the Kentucky Equal Justice Center, said that it's critical that these protections continue while the virus spreads. 

"Renters have no voice in what's happening across the street," Carter said of the courthouse, where representatives of the apartment group and the governor's office were in mediation. "To displace people during a global pandemic is a crime against humanity."

Beshear addressed the issue on Thursday during his press briefing about the virus, saying that attorneys had been in mediation "all day in Northern Kentucky" and that it "did not appear there would be resolution."

"If there is not a resolution, then that case will move forward and we will defend our order that we believe prevents people from carrying out evictions," Beshear said.

The governor said that there may be people "gaming the system", but also, "are there people out there suffering because of this virus and its economic impact that we can't allow to be kicked out on the streets? Yes."

In addition to GCNKAA, Vail, LLC, the owner of Aspen Pines in Wilder, Clayton Development, the owner of Charleston Pines in Florence, and Anduril Strategy, the owner of the Blake in Park Hills, are listed as plaintiffs against Beshear and Northern Kentucky circuit court clerks.

In Covington, Kentucky Voices for Health's Cara Stewart was part of the protest and said that the best thing we can do right now is to be healthy at home while emphasizing the need to have a home to be healthy at. 

Adrienne Bush from the Homeless and Housing Coalition of Kentucky said that she hopes landlords will join forces with renters to work together on a fair solution that benefits both of them equally.

Carter ended the gathering by reiterating the constitutionality of the governor's order citing evidence in Arizona and New York and suggested that the landlords take advantage of local and federal programs that are being rolled out to help them during the pandemic. 

"Get the money from the federal government," he said to the groups that filed suit. "It's on the way, bozos."

Written by Connor Wall, associate editor

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