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Millions still available for mortgage help as Hamilton County pushes out stimulus programs

Houses in Clifton
Sean Foster
/
Unsplash
Homes in Clifton.

More than $4 million is still available for mortgage, utility and property tax assistance in Hamilton County. The board of commissioners launched a $5 million program for that purpose last October, using federal stimulus funds.

Assistant County Administrator Holly Christmann says it’s not getting out the door as quickly as they hoped.

“We have spent just about $700,000 on the program so far, and this does include some of the technology upgrades we had to make to the application process,” Christmann said. “We have, through June, helped 217 households with their mortgage, utility and property tax payments.”

Christmann says they’re working on targeted outreach to make sure homeowners are aware of the program.

In the next couple of weeks, the treasurer’s office will mail a flier to all homeowners who are behind on their property taxes. Households must have had a negative financial impact from COVID and make less than 300% of the federal poverty level; a family of four with annual income of $83,250 or less would qualify.

“It's very important to our affordable housing plan because we don't need people thrown out their house and then try to get a house — we try to keep people in the house,” said Commission Vice President Alicia Reece.

Information about the program is available at 513relief.org/housing-utility-relief.

The status of other ARPA-funded projects

The county got $158 million from the American Rescue Plan Act. Several other ARPA-funded projects are set to launch within the next several weeks, including an expansion of the shelter diversion program and advising services for small businesses.

An order for a mobile relief center is expected to be complete in November, long after commissioners hoped to have it out on the streets.

The county borrowed a vehicle from UC Health to launch the temporary 513 Relief Bus last summer. It traveled throughout the county providing COVID testing and vaccines, and one-on-one help in applying for things like rent and utility assistance. The plan was to have a permanent bus ready to go by the time the partnership with UC Health expired at the end of last year. Reece is frustrated.

“I need to move it out of ‘under production’ and to get these wheels moving,” Reece said. “I mean, 4,000 people we helped. Can you imagine if we were up this year? 8,000 people might have been helped.”

County administrators say the bus is expected to be delivered in November.

Learn more about the county's ARPA spending:

Becca Costello grew up in Williamsburg and Batavia (in Clermont County) listening to WVXU. Before joining the WVXU newsroom, she worked in public radio & TV journalism in Bloomington, Indiana and Lincoln, Nebraska. Becca has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including from local chapters of the Associated Press and Society of Professional Journalists, and contributed to regional and national Murrow Award winners. Becca has a master's degree in journalism from Indiana University and a bachelor's degree from Cincinnati Christian University. Becca's dog Cincy (named for the city they once again call home) is even more anxious than she is.