Ohio may forfeit millions in rent assistance
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.
- This funding helped Americans stave off evictions by paying for delinquent rent, late fees and internet.
Yes, but: Ohio has been slow to distribute these funds as social service groups faced red tape and staffing shortages.
- Some organizations also chose to spend local governments' portions before the state's, Phil Cole, executive director of the Ohio Association of Community Agencies, told the Columbus Dispatch in March.
- Just 59% of Ohio's initial funding was spent as of Aug. 12, one of the lowest percentages in the U.S., according to data from the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC).
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.
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