By Kevin Barry
CLEVELAND — Social distancing because of the coronavirus has affected many people in a variety of different ways but for renters who depend on a steady income to pay rent, those steps have created additional problems.
“We still pay the rent, it’s just we’re very strapped,” said North Olmsted renter Julianne Schramm.
She and her family are in a tough financial spot.
Julianne is on disability for a recent surgery while her husbands hours have dried up because of the coronavirus. They can still pay the rent, but barely.
She’s on disability after surgery to repair her shoulder, keeping her from working in a nursing home or at her job at Amazon.
Her husband usually delivers supplies to restaurants, which has drastically slowed down even with indoor and outdoor dining now allowed in Ohio.
“Restaurants are not having their full menus and stuff like that, so his load keeps getting lower and lower,” said Schramm.
Their household is one piece of bad luck from a big problem.
“We don’t have that extra money in case of an emergency,” Schramm said.
That message is getting through loud to Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish.
“Evictions generally were halted in April and May, but they’re starting up again and this could be a disaster,” Budish said while announcing Cuyahoga County’s plan to help.
Cuyahoga County is using $6.8 million in federal funding to create a “countywide emergency rental assistance for up to three months to income-eligible tenants unable to pay their full monthly rent due to the pandemic,” the county posted on it’s Facebook page.
It will be available to households who are at 120% of the median income. That comes out to about $90,000 or less for a family of four.
Applications will be open July 1. If you need immediate assistance, call 2-1-1.
“US Census Bureau did a survey showing that over 21% of Ohio residents are currently unable to make their monthly housing payment,” said Budish. “That’s 21%. That’s one in five can’t make their rent payments.”
Cuyahoga County and the City of Cleveland is redirecting federal money to help pay landlords directly, allowing renters to stay in their homes and allowing landlords to pay down their mortgages too.
CHN told the Cuyahoga County Community Development Committee they hope that $6.8 million will be enough to help around 8,500 renters. The final details are being ironed out before July 1.
“That way, we’re not paycheck to paycheck,” Schramm said.
The goal is to keep renters in their homes, providing stability for their families at least for a little while until the pandemic is over or more help is available later on.
“We’ll have the extra money in case of an emergency if we need it so it would definitely put a lot less stress on both of us,” Schramm said.
Rent and Mortgages are due next week. News 5 and the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland are teaming up with United Way to help connect you with resources if you’ve fallen on hard times due to the coronavirus crisis on Tuesday from 4 pm to 6:30 pm. You can also call 211 to be connected to people and organizations who can help.
When you call 211, be sure to have ID, proof of income, and proof of what you owe in rent.