State won’t consider most of funding request by advocates for the poor

By: - August 24, 2020 1:00 am

The All People’s Fresh Market in Columbus, Ohio. (Brooke LaValley/ Ohio Capital Journal.)

When it meets on Monday, the Ohio Controlling Board won’t consider most of the funding requests by advocates who say hundreds of thousands of low-income Ohioans might face hunger and eviction in the coming weeks.

The advocates say that with the expiration of federal unemployment supplements and eviction moratoriums — and with the resumption of utility cutoffs — Ohioans who had been hanging on financially will no longer be able to do so. 

Last week, they requested $243 million from Ohio’s remaining $1.3 billion in federal coronavirus-relief funding for housing, daycare, food and utility assistance. On Thursday, Gov. Mike DeWine said he shared those concerns, but he had to prioritize the fight against coronavirus over them.

When the controlling board meets Monday, it will consider only two expenditures from the remaining federal CARES Act funding.

One would put $31 million toward child care. 

But advocates for Ohio’s poor say the funds are restricted to daycare facilities that maintain low child-to-teacher ratios as part of an effort to reduce the spread of the virus. They say many low-income parents often can’t afford to send their kids to such facilities.

The other item the controlling board will consider is almost $100 million in additional CARES Act money for coronavirus testing. DeWine on Thursday said that continuing to ramp up testing is essential to controlling the spread of the disease.

Absent from the controlling board agenda is the $100 million Advocates for Ohio’s future requested for emergency rental assistance. 

Bill Faith, Executive Director of the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, last week said that he expected the number of evictions to jump once the 30-day notification period ends at the start of September. He said that won’t lead to instant homeslessness for many, but it would begin a slide into instability.

“People who get evicted don’t necessarily end up homeless,” he said. “They might go to family, they might rely on other ways to get housing… When people face eviction, it’s entirely disruptive to their entire family. It’s hard to get to work if they don’t have stable housing. It’s hard for their kids to continue to stay in school even if it’s virtual. Everything is disconnected.”

In a related matter, more evidence emerged Friday of how differently the coronavirus-related economic crash is affecting the poor and the well-off.

The Washington Post reported that while the overall number of mortgage delinquencies was down in July, the number of serious delinquencies — those of at least 90 days — hit its highest point in 10 years. The story noted that serious delinquencies track closely with unemployment and are particularly high in states whose economies depend most heavily on the service industry.

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Marty Schladen
Marty Schladen

Marty Schladen has been a reporter for decades, working in Indiana, Texas and other places before returning to his native Ohio to work at The Columbus Dispatch in 2017. He's won state and national journalism awards for investigations into utility regulation, public corruption, the environment, prescription drug spending and other matters.