Hamilton County renters will soon have access to more than $10 million in federal grant funds to provide housing assistance for those financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Westfield Washington Township Trustee Danielle Carey Tolan, who oversees the program in Hamilton County, said she expects the funds to be used quickly. The trustees office has seen an increase in requests for rental assistance since the pandemic began.
“(Renters) are having major backpays of $6,000, $8,000 in rent and utilities, and they’re coming to our office for assistance,” she said. “Landlords still can’t evict (because of a federal moratorium), but they can choose not to renew their lease. That’s where we’re getting into this very sticky situation.”
The local program is expected to launch within a month, once software to manage it is available. Hamilton County Commissioner Christine Altman said she requested the county’s trustees to coordinate the effort since they are already responsible for providing emergency assistance to residents.
Renters can apply for grant funds if one or more members of the household qualifies for unemployment or has experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs or experienced a financial hardship because of COVID-19, according to the U.S. Dept. of the Treasury. They also must demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability and have a household income at or below 80 percent of the area median, which in Hamilton County is $45,950 for a single-person household and up to $86,600 for an eight-person household. The funds will not be available to households already receiving another type of federal rental assistance.
Renters can receive up to 12 months of assistance. The trustees can provide an additional three months of coverage if funds are still available and a continued need is shown. Those receiving grants funds must use them to cover payments past due before using them for future rental costs.
Carey Tolan said she has created implementation and advisory teams to help guide the program. For a municipality to receive the grant, no more than 10 percent of it can be used for administrative costs.
Renters or landlords can apply for the assistance by signing up at a soon-to-be-launched website. The county trustees plan to work with local assistance agencies, churches and landlords to help spread the word about the program.
Learn more about the program at home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/cares/emergency-rental-assistance-program.