COMMISSIONERS ALLOCATE NEARLY $34 MILLION FOR STRUGGLING RENTERS

The Franklin County Commissioners this morning voted to approve four grants allocating $33,737,156 for rent and utility assistance for struggling Franklin County residents.  The grants are part of $50.6 million in reallocated Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) funding that the county secured from the federal government in recent months, and will be divided among the Homeless Families Foundation, IMPACT Community Action, the Legal Aid Society of Columbus, and the commissioners’ own Job and Family Services agency.

“Many Franklin County residents continue to struggle with affordable, sustainable housing,” said Board of Commissioners President, John O’Grady.  “Housing prices are through the roof right now, wages haven’t kept up with inflation, and the pandemic only made everything harder for families that were already living on the edge.”

It’s been almost two years since the federal eviction moratorium expired, and Franklin County eviction filings are trending higher than in any recent year.  The county has received a total of about $89 million in Emergency Rental Assistance from the federal government, including $55.6 this year that was reallocated from other jurisdictions that had not disbursed their own allotment.  The U.S. Treasury recently used Franklin County and the City of Columbus as best-practice examples for the way that they have worked together to get ERA funding to residents who need it most.

“ERA funds allow us to distribute resources to residents most in danger of losing their housing.  I can’t think of a better effort to stabilize emergency assistance than to invest directly with our partner agencies to assist families,” said Commissioner Kevin L. Boyce.

The county’s Job and Family Services emergency rental assistance can cover past arrearages as well as up to three months prospective rent for families with a minor child or pregnant person in the household.  IMPACT Community Action will use its funding to provide rental and utilities assistance to other households, while the Legal Aid Society will be providing legal assistance to tenants who are already facing eviction.  The Homeless Families Foundation administers the Resiliency Bridge initiative, an innovative program that provides workforce development and other wrap-around services in addition to rental assistance to help its clients work toward a more stable living situation.

“Affordable housing is one of the greatest challenges facing our community right now” said Commissioner Erica C. Crawley.  “As challenging it is for our community, it’s an emergency for families who are facing homelessness and limited accessible affordable housing.  There’s very little that’s more disruptive or which presents a greater challenge to our neighbors than not having a safe, stable place to live.”

The text the four ERA resolutions is available on the commissioners’ website, and residents in need of rental assistance should visit JFS.FranklinCountyOhio.gov/PRC or  Rentful.614.com to be connected with appropriate services.

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