Agencies Move Fast to Help Ohioans with Housing Costs

By Mary Schuermann Kuhlman

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Agencies are moving fast to get struggling Ohioans the CARES Act funding that can help them stay in their homes.

In November, Ohio’s Community Action Agencies received a total of $50 million through the Home Relief Grant to help those who are behind on their mortgage, rent or other housing-related bills due to the pandemic.

At IMPACT Community Action in Columbus, Kay Wilson, director of engagement and advancement, said demand was so high that they had to cut off applications after the first week.

“We’ve seen a tremendous, tremendous amount of need,” she said. “People who never thought that they would have needed our services.”

The Mahoning-Youngstown Community Action Partnership still is taking applications in southeastern Ohio. Its chief executive, Sheila Triplett, said the funding is a crucial support in unprecedented times.

“It’s been a godsend for the agency to be able to help people that are affected by COVID,” she said.

The Home Relief Grant program runs through Dec. 30. To qualify, income must be at or below 200% of the federal poverty level, which is about $52,000 a year for a family of four.

At Gallia-Meigs CAA, executive director Lora Rawson said she’s proud of how her staff is adapting to the pandemic’s ever-changing challenges. She noted they’re doing all they can to get Housing Relief Grant money to people who need it as quickly as possible. 

“They have looked for ways to make it easier for residents, and working with other organizations to try to help get the assistance out to where it needs to be,” she said. “They’ve risen to every challenge.”

In Franklin County, Wilson said they’re hoping more funds become available for the families now on their waitlist, as well as others who might need help in the coming weeks.

“We are still aggressively looking for additional funding,” she said. “There are families who are on the verge of being homeless and are sitting at a kitchen table hopeless, mulling over bills. The last things you want are more people on the street.”