Montgomery County renters struggling to pay the rent or utilities due to the pandemic may find new help in coming weeks through $15.9 million in additional federal funds granted to the county.
The money is being distributed by the U.S. Treasury through the Emergency Rental Assistance program passed by Congress at the end of December.
“This program will help a lot of our citizens and also help our landlords who in some cases have went without rent for some time,” said Montgomery County Administrator Michael Colbert.
Of Montgomery County’s 254,821 housing units, 87,342 – or 39% – are renter occupied. Of the remainder, 61% are owner occupied and the rest vacant, according to a 2020 county profile by Ohio’s Office of Research.
Colbert said the county is still working with the U.S. Treasury on details and expects a program in place to distribute the funds by March 1.
The new funding exceeds the amount of funding available to renters through the county’s CARES Act distribution. Last year the county distributed $5 million in rental assistance and $6 million in utility assistance, some of which also went to homeowners. The new assistance comes with “more strings attached,” Colbert said.
Applicants must document that they experienced a reduction in income, significant costs or other financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to program rules. The statute also limits the eligibility to households not exceeding 80% of area median income.
“The last thing we want is for more people to be homeless,” said Montgomery County Commissioner Carolyn Rice. “So we welcome it and are grateful that we’ll be able to help many families stay in place.”
In addition to rent, funds can be spent on electricity, gas, water and sewer, trash removal and energy costs, such as fuel oil. The program does not include telephone, cable and internet.
Montgomery County received the $15.9 million through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which established the $25 billion rental assistance program for state, county and municipal governments with populations over 200,000. The county was notified of the award Jan. 21 and received the funds the same day.
Butler County was projected to receive $11.4 million and Warren County $7 million.
Montgomery County to offer renters assistance
Who’s eligible: Applicants must document they experienced a reduction in income, significant costs or other financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s limited to households not exceeding 80% of area median income.
What assistance can be used for: Bills for rent, electricity, gas, water and sewer, trash removal and energy costs, such as fuel oil.
What’s not included: Assistance for telephone, cable and internet.
How to apply: Montgomery County working on details for plan.