Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced there is help on the way for Ohioans struggling to pay their rent. At his news conference Tuesday afternoon, he said the state approved $100 million in federal funding – but with a moratorium on evictions set to expire March 31, many people said what they really need is more time.
“Before COVID, we were already having an eviction crisis,” Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati managing attorney Nick Dinardo said.
But with the pandemic, agencies like Legal Aid are now staring down a tidal wave of cases.
“We’re getting a lot of people who had job loss because of COVID, maybe had difficulty applying for unemployment compensation and, therefore, can’t pay their rent.”
The new money from the federal government should help landlords get back rent and help tenants pay for other basic utilities like water, sewer and electric.
“Eligible Ohioans may contact their local community action agency for assistance with outstanding balances dating back to March 13, 2020,” DeWine said.
In order to qualify, you must make at or below 80% of your county’s median income, have experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19 and demonstrate risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability. With many of these assistance programs, the paperwork can be cumbersome and the turnaround slow.
“So, start to finish it takes usually three to four weeks, but there’s such a long wait list that the actual process can be longer than that because people are waiting just to get in line,” Dinardo said.
It has to happen, he said, to protect all of us in the face of the pandemic.
“Preventing people from being evicted doesn’t just protect them and their families,” Dinardo said. “It protects the whole community.”
Those who qualify for the program may also receive assistance for future rent once back bills have been made current – up to three months at a time.