LMH prepares for end of eviction moratorium

Brooks Sutherland, The Blade, Toledo, Ohio
·3 min read

May 4—Lucas Metropolitan Housing officials are making early preparations for when the agency's internal eviction moratorium expires at the end of July by creating a Housing Stability team that has already begun the work of tracking how many tenants are behind on rent.

The team led by Kattie Bond, the agency's senior vice president of operations and community development, consists of employees throughout different housing authority departments. So far, the team has analyzed aged receivable reports and completed three housing stability planning and training sessions where it reviewed how many tenants have outstanding debt and compiled information on rental assistance still available locally.

Speaking at a virtual committee of the whole meeting before the agency's board Tuesday morning, Joaquin Cintron Vega, the housing authority's president and chief executive officer, said the team's goal is to identify residents who are behind on rent over the next few months and help them access rental assistance and work out payment plans to catch up.

"We are here to help, we are in the business of housing people," Mr. Vega said. "But we want you to be aware of what your responsibilities are, so when we lift the eviction moratorium, we can maintain everybody housed. That is our mission to make sure that everybody can have a place to call home."

Mr. Vega said 571 families throughout the agency's nearly 3,600 apartments are in arrears. Of those, 310 owe $300 or less, while 169 have a balance between $300 and $1,200 and 92 families owe more than $1,200. The total past-due rent from those 571 families is $357,951, he said.

Among local rental-assistance sources, $17,188,527 is available from the City of Toledo, Lucas County, LMH's 'Home to Stay" program, the Lucas Resident Services Corporation, and Pathway Toledo.

Ms. Bond said the team began a number of analyses back in February to assess residents' needs. Because applications for the varying rental assistance programs differ and each comes with a level of specificity, she said the team organized families into several different categories to assist with the process of applying for rental assistance and ensuring tenants were ahead of the ball.

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"We wanted to see where we are, how many residents we had in those different categories, and how many issues were COVID related, and so we did another analysis where we broke that out into those specific categories," she said.

A federal eviction moratorium that has been challenged and overturned in multiple courts — specifically in the Cincinnati-based U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Toledo — is slated to expire June 30.

Hugh Grefe, president of the LMH board, applauded the team for what he called a proactive approach to what could be a challenging situation later this summer.

"I think it's a thoughtful, strategic and com[comprehensive approach," Mr. Grefe said. "It's going to be tough to keep all those many plates spinning, and I think that's just the way it is. But it's a very humane approach. And so it's a reflection of the values we often espouse."

First Published May 4, 2021, 12:06pm