Housing help vital

The housing assistance program is necessary to keep people whole right now.

The Editorial Board
Tue, 11 Aug 2020 04:00:00 GMT

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In May Toledo officials announced the city would use $2 million in federal coronavirus-relief aid to provide emergency housing assistance. This is both necessary and wise.

But the program initially was not available to current residents of public housing. The recent announcement that public-housing residents can now access the housing assistance program is a small victory in the fight to ensure housing stability in Toledo through the pandemic.

It is distressing that a large portion of people who have applied for help may not get it because they did not correctly fill out their applications. The agencies managing the program said of the 705 applications, 402 were incomplete.

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City officials, program managers, and housing advocates must put their heads together to solve this problem. Whether it is following up with phone calls, offering help with the applications, or simplifying the paperwork, officials must remove the barriers that threaten to make this much needed help inaccessible.

The city’s efforts to fund this urgently needed program risk being wasted if the people who need it do not get the housing assistance it provides.

Toledo has a unique mix of issues that makes the city vulnerable to a serious housing crisis in the wake the pandemic’s effect on the economy. This is a city where nearly one in six people live below the poverty line. More than half the city’s residences are occupied by renters and, of those, many are spending more than the recommended 30 percent of their income on rent.

The housing assistance program is necessary to keep people whole right now. It is equally critical that the people who need it can access the help that is available.