$15.8M aid program now open to Montgomery County renters: Here’s how to apply

Montgomery County renters impacted by the coronavirus pandemic can now apply for federal the Emergency Rental Assistance Program funds. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF
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Montgomery County renters impacted by the coronavirus pandemic can now apply for federal the Emergency Rental Assistance Program funds. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

Credit: HANDOUT

Credit: HANDOUT

Montgomery County residents still struggling to pay the rent due to pandemic hardship may now apply for assistance through a new $15.8 million relief program.

“There is still a strong need in our community for help with rent,” said Montgomery County Commission President Judy Dodge. “So many people are still struggling because of this pandemic, and they should not need to worry about having a roof over their heads.”

The new funding approved by Congress last December can help cover up to 12 months of back rent and up to three months of future rental expenses. Montgomery County households that meet certain eligibility guidelines can apply for the program by dialing the United Way’s HelpLink at 211.

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Rental relief can’t come fast enough for Chris Payton. The Dayton resident was in court Tuesday afternoon trying to keep himself and his 9-year-old daughter from becoming homeless.

“I’ve never been through an eviction process or even gotten close to this type of process. This is all new to me,” he said. “I’m scared right now because I have nowhere to go.”

Payton said his work hours were cut in half early last year at his job transporting patients at Grandview Medical Center and in August he was laid off. He found another job but had to quit that to take care of his daughter when she got sick with COVID-19, he said.

Equity Trust, the owner of his West Dayton apartment building served Payton a three-day notice to vacate notice on Feb. 1 after failing to pay $395 in monthly rent for January and February plus $1 for each day the rent was past due, according to court records.

Payton said he’s even further in arrears now but has tried to pay what he can.

“I was able to give them something last week from my stimulus check but it wasn’t enough to cover everything,” he said. “My car went down as well. I had to pay to get my car fixed so I’m able to go out and look for jobs.”

Visiting Judge William Wolff Jr. concluded a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moratorium on evictions, due to expire June 30, is valid. Wolff set a new court date later this month (April 27), which Payton said will give him time to apply for the county’s new assistance program.

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Last month, Montgomery County commissioners approved resolutions outlining how the first $8.12 million of the emergency rental funding will be spread among five area nonprofits to distribute.

Catholic Social Services of the Miami Valley, Goodwill Easter Seals Miami Valley, Homefull and Salvation Army Dayton Kroc Center each received $2 million to distribute. Another $124,484 was approved for United Way of the Greater Dayton Area to provide intake services through HelpLink 211.

Rental assistance program requirements

To be eligible, one or more individuals in a Montgomery County household must:
• Have qualified for unemployment benefits or attest by writing that they have experienced financial hardship due to the pandemic
• Be at risk of becoming homeless (past-due rent, eviction notice or unsafe or unhealthy living conditions)
• Have a household income below 80% of the area median income to be eligible. Priority is given to households below 50% of the area median income.
Household size 50% area median income 80% area median income
1 person $26,500 $42,400
2 people $30,300 $48,450
3 people $34,100 $54,500
4 people $37,850 $60,550
5 people $40,900 $65,400
6 people $43,950 $70,250
7 people $46,950 $75,100
8 people $50,000 $79,950
Source: Montgomery County

The remainder of the county’s federal emergency rental funding will be held in reserve and used if an agency exhausts its initial allocation, according to the the county.

About 88 percent of Montgomery County’s 254,821 housing units are occupied. Of the occupied units, 39% are renter occupied and 61% are owner occupied, according to a 2020 county profile by Ohio’s Office of Research.

Emergency Rental Assistance funds generally expire Sept. 30, 2022, according to federal guidelines.

County officials say the new program has more rigorous requirements than CARES Act rental assistance distributed last year.

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A Dayton Daily New investigation found some of the largest CARES Act payments went to properties that program administrators say appear to have violated program rules, including some that were uninhabitable and had no water service. Owners of 10 rental units offered to pay back more than $100,000 they received through the program after they were contacted by the newspaper.

“We have put several safeguards in place to minimize fraudulent applications,” said Montgomery County Commissioner Carolyn Rice. “That is all to be certain that it goes to those who meet the requirements and really need it.”


How to apply

Montgomery County residents may apply for rental assistance by dialing HelpLink 211 or calling 937-225-3000.