Housing advocates push for federal rental assistance


COLUMBUS, Ohio -- As the number of Ohioans filing for unemployment continues to rise, housing experts are growing increasingly concerned about renters’ ability to pay rent.

Bill Faith, Executive Director of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio tells 10TV people were able to pay rent for March, a good number of people paid April’s rent, but as we approach May, many are worried those numbers won't look as good.

“If you look at the over 1 million people who have lost their job in Ohio in the recent weeks and our estimate is that nearly 600,000 of them are renters,” Faith said. “Their monthly combined total is about $500 million a month that those renters have to come up with to keep the rent paid.”

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Jane Wilkinson is one of those Ohioans struggling to make ends meet after being laid off from her job making auto parts. She says her unemployment application still reads pending and without any money soon, she’s at risk of losing the roof over her head.

“I’m getting stressed out about it,” Wilkinson said.

But leaders focused on fair and affordable housing are working to convince congress to provide folks like Jane Wilkinson a little help.

The group of community activists hosted an online press and laid out a plan for congress to consider establishing renter’s assistance to provide relief. They are hoping lawmakers support a $100 billion temporary rental assistance program to stabilize workers who have lost their jobs due to COVID19.

“It’s a win-win scenario,” Faith said.

“It helps the tenant maintain their housing and it helps the owner maintain their properties.”

As for Ohioans like Jane, she’s just hoping something happens soon.

“It’s very frustrating,” Wilkinson said. “I’m at the point where I’m ready to give up.”

Coronavirus: What you need to know

There are now 34,208 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio; 2,080 people have died from the virus and 6,205 were hospitalized, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Breakdown of Ohio cases by county >>

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple of weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

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