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New round of rent and utility help coming to Summit County

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Posted at 5:02 PM, Aug 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-26 18:43:53-04

AKRON, Ohio — Summit County is preparing to accept a new round of applications for rent and utility assistance.

Applications will reopen on Sept. 8. The county will have an additional $12.7 million in Emergency Rental Assistance funds, which must be spent by September of 2025.

Between CARES Act and ERA funds, Summit County has already distributed $29.2 million in housing aid during the pandemic. More than 7,300 households have been helped.

According to Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro, Summit County leads all other counties in the state that received ERA funds in percentage of money distributed (85%) and total households assisted.

"That's what our safety nets are for and that's what communities are-- neighbors helping neighbors-- and that's the fabric of Summit County," Shaprio said. "We put out the clarion call to our partners and said we have this money. We have people in need and we need you now."

As part of the federal government's early response to COVID-19 in 2020, Summit County received over $94 million in CARES Act funding. Shapiro earmarked several million dollars to provide rent, mortgage and utility assistance to residents negatively affected by the pandemic.

Shapiro worked with United Way of Summit and Medina Counties, Community Action Akron Summit and several other community organizations to launch the Summit County Cares program.

By the end of 2020, payments of $18.5 million were issued to landlords and utility providers on behalf of Summit County residents.

Summit County leaders believe the rent and utility help is critical in Akron, which has the highest eviction rate, per capita, in Ohio, according to a study by Eviction Lab.

Residents who need help are urged to call 2-1-1, and those facing evictions may be prioritized, according to Tanya Kahl who oversees 2-1-1.

"Every day, we're elevating individuals who might have received an eviction filing with the court and we're trying to stop those evictions from happening," Kahl said.

Kahl said there are still thousands of residents who need help, which was evident by the high number of applications received since March for the first round or ERA funds.

"We've received 10,000 applications from households in Summit County and we've already issued about $15 million in rental assistance," Kahl said.

With many facing financial uncertainty during an unpredictable pandemic, officials said residents should not be afraid to ask for help and find out if they're qualified.

"If anyone has questions, we encourage them to call 2-1-1 and we can tell them about various resources that are available," Kahl said. "We really just want people to know that there is help available."

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