Subscribe to Axios Columbus

Get smarter, faster with a daily look at the biggest stories in Columbus

iPhone showing Axios Columbus newsletter on the Axios app

Ohio may forfeit millions in rent assistance

 Illustration of three windows on a brick wall, with Ben Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, and George Washington in them.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Ohio is sitting on millions of dollars in unspent rental assistance it received in late 2020, but a department tasked with distributing it says the money will be fully utilized soon.

Why it matters: This is a use-it-or-lose-it federal relief program, so Ohio's share could be forfeited if not allocated by Sept. 30.

State of play: Ohio received more than half a billion dollars in the first round of Emergency Rental Assistance funding given to states and local governments at the height of the pandemic.

Yes, but: Ohio has been slow to distribute these funds as social service groups faced red tape and staffing shortages.

What they're saying: Todd Walker, the chief communications officer for the Ohio Department of Development, tells Axios this percentage is actually much higher as NLIHC's figure doesn't include more recent spending from over the summer.

  • Walker says the state intends to spend its full share before the federal deadline.

Of note: A second round of funding provides an additional $496 million to Ohio, but its deadline is in 2025.

  • Separately, Columbus and Franklin County received around $27 million and $13 million in initial housing assistance funding, respectively.
  • Columbus spent its share to serve over 11,000 households since the spring of 2021, City Council deputy communications director Nya Hairston tells Axios.

What to do this weekend

Illustration of an animated neutral emoji changing into a smiling-with-sunglasses emoji.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🍴 Feast from over 50 vendors during the Columbus Food Truck Festival at the Franklin County Fairgrounds in Hilliard.

  • 4-11pm tonight, 11am-11pm Saturday, noon-7pm Sunday. $5 daily or $10 weekend pass.
Tyler Buchanan
Aug 18, 2022 - News

🔥 Dealing with our "heat belt"

Note: Shaded counties are those that will, on average, have 0.5 days or more at or above a 125F° heat index in 2053; Data: First Street Foundation; Map: Axios Visuals

Millions of Ohioans living in an emerging "extreme heat belt" are expected to face sweltering temperatures over the coming decades, Axios' Andrew Freedman writes.

Why it matters: Ohio has largely been spared from serious climate-related disasters like droughts and wildfires, but new data projects the Buckeye State and its neighbors will eventually be impacted.

Tyler Buchanan
Aug 18, 2022 - News

Need help? Just call Jarrod

Photo illustration collage of Jarrod Young surrounded by abstract shapes and photos of him holding a ladder.
Photo illustration: Maura Losch/Axios. Photos courtesy of Jarrod Young

Jarrod Young's mission of earning $100 per day via odd jobs began with pulling fence posts from a south side yard. Day two involved hauling away railroad ties, a mini fridge and a set of bar stools.

Young's goal: Pocket a Benjamin each day for 100 days to save up for a trip to Thailand with his wife.

Try this Hilltop hidden gem

A soft serve ice cream cone covered in rainbow sprinkles
A large cone is just $2.50 at Hilltop Dairy Twist. Add sprinkles for 65 cents! Photos: Alissa Widman Neese/Axios

​​👋 Alissa here. Nothing tastes better on a warm summer day than soft serve ice cream from a mom-and-pop shop.

Driving the news: I was shocked when I moved to Columbus and couldn't find any local hotspots. My hometown of just 25,000 people spoiled me with three.

Laura Martinez
Aug 17, 2022 - Health

CVS, Walgreens, Walmart to pay $650 million in Ohio opioids case

CVS pharmacy
Photo: Paul Weaver/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A federal judge on Wednesday ordered three of the country's largest pharmacy chains — CVS, Walgreens and Walmart — to pay $650 million to two Ohio counties, claiming the way they distributed opioids to customers caused severe harm to communities and created a public nuisance, AP reports.

Why it matters: It is the first ruling by a federal judge that assigns a set money figure against the pharmacy chains for their role in the opioid crisis, and could set a precedent for other local governments that seek to hold pharmacies accountable.

Where to eat, play and stay in Yellow Springs, 1 hour from Columbus

Mini Golf at Young's Jersey Dairy. Photo: John Young/Young's Jersey Dairy

Located in Greene County, the village of Yellow Springs is the quintessential nature-lovers' getaway.

Here's what to do and where to eat and drink and stay.

Tyler Buchanan
Aug 17, 2022 - News

Franklin County jail dumps in-person visits

An entrance sign to the Franklin County Corrections Center II jail.
Photo courtesy of the Franklin County Department of Public Facilities Management

A Franklin County jail is replacing in-person visits between incarcerated individuals and their loved ones in favor of a virtual visitation system.

Why it matters: The phased-in change at Franklin County Corrections Center II on Jackson Pike has sparked fears this may further isolate those in custody from their family and friends.