Kettering has doled out about $3.3 million in federal emergency funds over several months to keep renters in four south suburban communities in their homes — and the demand remains strong.
With hundreds of applications awaiting processing, the city recently approved receiving an additional $850,000, making more than $1 million now available to help those in qualifying households impacted by COVID in Kettering, Centerville, Moraine and Washington Twp. to avoid eviction.
While the pandemic has subsided, “there’s still people that are getting COVID and missing work,” Kettering Community Development Manager Angela Rahman said. “And if you’re already living on the margins … it’s really difficult to recover from that.”
Through Friday, 750 applicants have been approved for funds, with about half of those coming in the past five months, Kettering records show. More than 300 applications await processing, according to the city.
With rents rising due to inflation, the current economy has “absolutely” exacerbated the need for assistance, Rahman said.
“We’re still really busy. We’re seeing a lot of people who are really desperate,” she said.
The funds are dispersed to Kettering’s STAYPUT program through Montgomery County under the U.S. Treasury’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program. All told, Kettering has received about $4.45 million in federal money.
Kettering oversees the program for Centerville, Moraine and Washington Twp. because it is home to the municipal court that handles eviction cases for all four jurisdictions, officials said.
“We have been very happy with the results,” Kettering Mayor Peggy Lehner said. “And since there’s additional money out there available, we think it’s a great program and we would certainly like to be able to continue it.”
Working with court
The city receives weekly lists of those facing evictions and works to contact them before their upcoming court dates, Rahman said.
She noted the program recently came across someone who got evicted.
“But the judge gave them more time if they worked with us,” Rahman said. “So, we were able to stop them from physically being removed from the property.”
Kettering’s communication with those on future court eviction lists is “not the most common” way tenants end up seeking funds, “but it’s picking up,” she added.
People living in five ZIP codes that include Centerville, Kettering and Moraine account for about 62% of the households assisted, records show. They include 45420, 45429, 45417, 45439 and 45440.
Approved applicants can get up to 12 months of rent in arrears plus three future months, officials said. They said checks go to directly to landlords.
Between two and three dozen tenants at Cobblegate Square Apartments & Stonecreek Apartments in Moraine have worked with STAYPUT since September 2021, complex Property Manager Dave Cook said.
Cook said he formerly worked for a nonprofit and managed a housing assistance program, “so I know how difficult that can be. And I think Kettering does a fantastic job of administrating the program.”
He called the program “a win-win. It helps the resident maintain their housing. And we’re a business — so we need to collect the rent … so we’re able to get the rent and they continue to keep their housing.”
The time from application to approval can vary, but it has ranged from a couple of weeks to about a month, “which is still pretty fast considering everything involved” and generally shorter than the eviction process, Cook said.
With the current number of applications, the processing time is three to four weeks from date of submission, according to the city. Landlords of approved applicants can currently expect to receive checks in about five to six weeks, Kettering’s website states.
Federal guidelines require administrators to prioritize applications based on income level, unemployment status, and housing status, according to the city.
To be eligible for funds, according to Kettering, applicants must:
•Have low- to moderate-income, which is 80% of area median income. A household of two cannot earn more than $53,000 annually.
•Live in ZIP codes within the court’s jurisdiction.
•Show that they have experienced financial hardship due to the COVID pandemic that meets the U.S. Treasury guidelines.
•Have property owners agree to accept payments.
For application information, go to https://www.ketteringoh.org/stayput/. All funds must be spent by March 2023, Rahman said.
The city of Kettering is administering a rental relief program for Kettering, Centerville, Moraine and Washington Twp., all communities under the Kettering Municipal Court’s jurisdiction. Through June 17, these are the ZIP codes where the most rental relief funds were approved through Kettering’s STAYPUT program:
•45420 — $493,653
•45429 — $453,945
•45417 — $365,708
•45439 — $362,991
•45440 — $301,376
•45419 — $246,099
•45458 — $212,760
•45342 — $228,170
•45459 — $169,387
•45432 — $135,703
Source: City of Kettering