On Oct. 26, the state Controlling Board approved the release of additional CARES Act funds for Ohio businesses, restaurants, and citizens impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Of importance to OMEA members, the state approved the creation of the Home Relief Grant program. The program allocates $50 million in grants for Ohio citizens to pay rent, mortgage, and water and sewer payments. The program does not, however, cover outstanding electric bills.
Starting Nov. 2, 2020, the State of Ohio will allocate $50 million from the Coronavirus Relief Fund from the CARES Act to 47 Community Action Agencies to help Ohioans that have experienced economic hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Each Community Action Agency will receive a portion of the funding based on their Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) CARES Act allocation. Ohioans who are behind on rent, mortgage, and water and/or sewer utility bills (back to April 1, 2020) may be able to receive assistance. Ohioans can receive monthly assistance until the program ends on December 30, 2020. As it pertains to utility bills that include more than the water or sewer services, assistance can be provided to maintain service or prevent shut off only.
Please note that additional utility assistance (electric and natural gas) is not available under the Home Relief Grant program. The only current statewide electric and natural gas assistance program available to customers of municipal electric communities is HEAP, which may also be applied for by households beginning Nov. 1 at the Community Action Agencies.
Procedurally, the Community Action Agencies will make direct payments on behalf of the applicant to the landlord, bank, or water and/or sewer company. A household can receive assistance in more than one category.
To be eligible for assistance, applicants must do the following. First, Ohio households must have an annual income at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines to be eligible. A list of the federal poverty guidelines for this program is attached. Secondly, Ohioans will be able to apply for assistance through their local Community Action Agency starting Nov. 2, 2020. Ohio’s Community Action Agencies work with the Ohio Development Services Agency to provide assistance to Ohioans in need. You will need to apply at the Community Action Agency that serves your county. The federal poverty guidelines can be found here.
When applying for assistance, Ohioans will need to provide the following information to their local Community Action Agency:
- Names of all household members
- Date of Birth
- Social Security Number
- Current or Previous address
- Copies of Social Security cards, or verification for each household member
- Proof of income for all household members 18 years or older for a minimum of the past 30 days
- For seasonal or self-employed individuals, please provide proof of income for 12 months
- Any supporting documentation to demonstrate need
- Hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic
Please note that individuals that are currently unemployed will only need to provide 30 days of income for verification purposes. Additionally, any federal unemployment stipend is excluded from determining a household’s benefit. Additionally, for applicants to receive water and sewer assistance, they will also need to provide a copy of their utility bill demonstrating that the account has either been shut off, is in disconnect status, or is past due.
Additional Program Information:
Additional information on the Home Relief Grant program can be found at the following website: https://businesshelp.ohio.gov/home-relief-grant.html or by calling 1-800-282-0880