Some Columbus CARES Act funds going toward rental assistance

NBC4 Investigates

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The City of Columbus gave more than $10 million from its $157 CARES Act allocation to a local non-profit for its rental assistance program.

Robert “Bo” Chilton, CEO of IMPACT Community Action, said more help is needed to keep families in their homes.

IMPACT also received funding from Franklin County and private donations, allowing the non-profit to spend $15 million on rental assistance to keep 5,000 families in their homes.

Earlier this year, IMPACT received additional funding through a federal program to help more renters in the community.

Katrina Strong’s family was one of them.

“I’ve been requested to leave the home with a three-day eviction multiple times,” Strong said. “The only think I could think of was, ‘What do I do? Where do I go?’”

Strong, a single mother of five, quit her job as a truck driver to help her children navigate the challenges of full-time remote learning. She said she relocated to Columbus from south Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and has no other family in central Ohio.

“I was making it off of my savings,” Strong said. “And the savings then depleted.”

Columbus City Schools is transitioning students to a blended learning model this week, with two days of class room learning and three days of remote learning each week. Strong looks forward to going back to work while her children are at school, but has concerns about type of work she can do on that schedule.

“I don’t know many jobs, in trucking anyway, that’s going to allow me to work 2-3 days a week,” Strong said.

IMPACT is also assisting Strong through its workforce development programs.

“Some of the jobs that we lost aren’t coming back,” Chilton said. “The nature of work is shifting, so we’ve got to stay ahead of the curve and make sure people are properly trained.”

IMPACT launched a new information technology program Monday as part of its focus on training a more remote workforce. The non-profit’s workforce development, financial literacy, youth employment, and re-entry programs are funded largely by additional stimulus money that comes directly from the federal government.

President Joe Biden signed a new stimulus bill, known as the American Rescue Plan, earlier this month. Chilton and Columbus city officials are still unsure how much money they will receive from that bill.

“We’ve been able to secure about $51 million this year, total. And that will go a long way toward helping to relieve some of the economic pain. But certainly we know that the demand is much greater than that,” Chilton said.

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