State Finally Allocates CARES Act Funding for Housing Assistance
On October 23, 2020, Governor Mike DeWine and legislative leaders announced a $419.5 million assistance package of federal CARES Act dollars. The package includes grant programs for small businesses, nonprofits, universities, and other entities.
Fortunately, the package also included $50 million for Home Relief Grants to help Ohioans who are experiencing job and income loss due to COVID-19. Ohioans who are behind on rent, mortgage, and water and/or sewer utility bills may be able to receive assistance. Assistance can be applied to outstanding rent, mortgage, and water bills back to April 1, 2020. Ohio households with an annual income at or below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines will be eligible for assistance. For a family of four, that is an annual income up to $52,400.
This investment of CARES Act dollars will help keep families safe in their homes and provide some stability to the housing market as another month of rent is due. Renters and property owners need this support.
As Ohioans continue to experience job and income loss due to the pandemic, additional federal and state resources will be needed to prevent evictions and keep Ohioans safe, especially as we get closer to the expiration of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium. The National Council of State Housing Agencies released a report estimating that 240,000 evictions will have been filed in Ohio by January 2021. Housing assistance should be among the highest priorities for resources in the coming weeks and months.
The Future of the Affordable Care Act
On November 10, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in California v. Texas, the latest challenge to the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act. Texas is leading the case but it includes 18 states. The case is being defended by 17 other states. Ohio has not joined either side but Ohio Attorney General David Yost filed an amicus brief arguing that major provisions of the Affordable Care Act should be allowed to remain in effect.
The challengers argue that, because Congress reduced the Individual Mandate ‘tax’ to zero, it can no longer be considered a tax, and therefore the provision is no longer constitutional. Since the provision is unconstitutional, according to the challengers, the entire law must be thrown out as well. This argument has been widely criticized by legal experts and many think it is unlikely that the Supreme Court will overturn the law in its entirety.
If the law is overturned, more than 20 million Americans could lose access to health care. Ohio would lose 90 percent of funding for the “Medicaid Expansion,” which provides coverage to adults without children. It is unlikely that the state would be able to sustain the program without federal money. More than 700,000 Ohioans are covered by the Medicaid expansion and nearly 200,000 receive insurance through the ACA marketplace.
Tomorrow is Election Day!
On Nov. 3, Election Day, polls are open from 6:30 am to 7:30 pm. You must cast your ballot in your precinct at your designated polling place. You can find your designated precinct or polling place at your county board of elections.