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Calls for emergency housing assistance answered in Ohio

The state has allocated $50 million in CARES Act funding for mortgage and rental assistance to families with overdue rent, mortgage payments or sewer and water bills due to COVID-19.
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COLUMBUS — Policy groups and housing advocates are applauding the approval of emergency rental assistance in Ohio, while cautioning additional dollars are needed by the end of the year.

The state has allocated $50 million in CARES Act funding for mortgage and rental assistance to families with overdue rent, mortgage payments or sewer and water bills due to COVID-19. Alison Goebel, executive director at the Greater Ohio Policy Center, said the economic fallout from the pandemic is disproportionately affecting low-income workers, a group already plagued by high levels of housing cost burden.

"It's really scary. When you are housing unstable, you are likely to have a hard time finding a job. Your Children are having a harder time staying on top of school work," Goebel said. "We're also really worried about what that does to the quality of our neighborhoods, many of which are still recovering from the housing crisis 12 years ago."

The assistance will be available through local community-action agencies to families earning 200 percent or less of the federal poverty level. Ohio still has about $1 billion remaining of its share of CARES Act funding that must be spent by Dec. 31.

Marcus Roth, director of communications and development at the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, contends additional federal and state resources will be needed by the end of the year, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's eviction moratorium expires.

"Last month there were nearly 300,000 households just in Ohio that were behind on their rents. That's way above normal," she said. "So if we want to make sure that people have a safe place to stay during this pandemic, we need our federal and state leaders to step up."

There are estimates that landlords in Ohio could see a rent shortfall between $544 million and $792 million by January 2021.

— This story was produced in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the George Gund Foundation.




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