DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Montgomery County was awarded $15.8 million for the U.S. Treasury to start a new program that provides relief for rental expenses caused by the ongoing pandemic.
Officials say this is an opportunity to help 4,500 Montgomery County families. However, they also say the nearly $16 million is a temporary solution.
“While $16 million does seem like a lot, if you think about your housing costs for a year and divide that up to 30,000 families that have applied for assistance, it doesn’t go very far,” said Amy Kettner, the vice president of marketing with the United Way of Greater Dayton Area.
The funds will cover up to 12 months of back rent dating back to March 2020 and three months of future rent. Only Montgomery County residents that suffer from a loss of income that’s related to the pandemic and also meet income requirements are eligible to apply.
“The most frightening thing for a person is losing their home and once that happens and gets an eviction on your record, it is so difficult to get another rental,” said Montgomery County Business Services PIO Michael Zimmerman. “That’s the thing everyone has to understand, this isn’t a long term solution, it’s a temporary solution during the pandemic.”
United Way of greater Dayton Area says one-in-five families are behind on six months of rent and are at risk of being homeless. Many of the Section 8 housing blocks were destroyed in the 2019 tornados and haven’t been rebuilt, causing a major problem during the pandemic.
“Just rental assistance is not going to solve the overall issue, it’s a temporary band aid,” said Kettner.
The county is working with the United Way of the Greater Dayton Area to help with the initial applications. To be eligible, one or more people in the home 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/unhealthy living conditions)
- Have a household income below 50 percent of area median income ($37,850 for a household of four)
“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. We’re grateful for this funding, and we will work diligently to make sure it gets to those who need it.”
United Way will be taking basic information, and Montgomery County is working with other partners to process applications for those in need. Catholic Social Services, Goodwill Easter Seals, Homefull and the Salvation Army will each help individuals through the application process.
To apply, call the United Way’s Helplink at 211.