COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — As Ohioans face financial challenges from inflation and the pandemic, more relief is coming to help cover costs of rent and energy bills.

The support comes as state lawmakers say they have seen an unprecedented number of evictions.

“There were a lot of folks who contacted our office saying, ‘what do we do next, where do we go,’” Representative Dontavius Jarrells (D-Columbus) said.

Jarrells said, about one month ago, rental and energy relief organizations said they did not have the money to continue helping Ohioans. Now, $75 million for rental relief and $71 million for energy relief were approved by the controlling board to help thousands of families.

“Any assistance we can provide to these individuals literally is saving their life so they won’t become homeless,” Jarrells said.

Apply for energy relief here, and view rental assistance resources here.

“The reality is, folks just need a little more help and this money is going to go right into their pocket to help support them and their families when they need it the most,” Jarrells said.

“That money they’re spending on the electric bill, on the gas bill, it means a whole lot to these families,” Representative Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville) said. “It’s infant formula, it’s food, it’s things off their plates.”

The money is part of the federal aid Ohio received during the pandemic. Both Jarrells and Edwards said this is the best way to spend those funds.

“It should be spent on this, not every state is choosing to spend it on this,” Edward’s said. “These are good programs.”

“$75 million is not enough to cover everyone who needs help, but it is a step in the right direction, and we are happy we can use those funds to help families.”

Jarrells and Edwards said this money can be a lifesaver.

“Some of these families save over $200 to $300 on their energy bills getting access to this support,” Jarrells said. “So, it’s a big deal.”

“This is life,” Edwards said. “And sometimes I think we get caught up in the political conversations and don’t realize that these folks are having a real struggle.”