By Asia Nail
The Truth Reporter
The unemployment rate skyrocketed to record highs in Ohio during the pandemic, forcing many Toledo residents to fall behind on their mortgage and rent payments. Fortunately, over 1900 Toledo families are enjoying the Holiday season in their own homes thanks to Pathway Inc. and their Home Relief Department.
Since the federal eviction moratorium expired, housing displacement is a great concern for the most vulnerable in our community and help is needed more than ever.
“Without mortgage/rental assistance, many Lucas County residents would risk home instability this new year,” shares Cynthia Savage.
Savage is currently serving as Pathway Inc.’s Director of Community Resources. She is leading a hand selected team responsible for overseeing and distributing approximately $23 million in mortgage, rental and utility assistance throughout Lucas County.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us but we’ve made great strides so far as stewards over these funds. It’s an exciting challenge to help our community in such an important way,” says Savage.
Savage is a forward-thinker and proven problem-solver with decades of professional experience in higher education and the public sector. She is making a big impact as the newest member to the Pathway agency.
Cynthia E. Savage is an Organizational Development practitioner, Equity, Inclusion and Diversity advocate and Transformational Leader. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Toledo and a Master of Organization Development degree from Bowling Green State University’s College of Business. A native of Toledo, Ohio, Savage is also a member of the Organization Development Network and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.
With COVID-19 causing unprecedented job loss and income reduction in the City of Toledo, Savage and her team have been working harder than ever to build a network of local partners willing and ready to help residents in need.
“Unfortunately, we are all still being impacted by Covid in some way. For some it has been harder than others, yet our goal is to keep as many Lucas County residents housed as we can,” shares Cynthia.
These past two years have negatively impacted more than just the underserved, the middle class have been struggling to stay afloat as well.
“From last November until today we have helped just over 4,000 individuals; approximately 1,900 families,” she explains.
Pathway’s Home Relief Department has key partnerships with the City of Toledo through Neighborly, Lucas County’s Emergency Rental Assistance Portal, for Toledoans to apply for help.
Pastor Jerry L. Boose of Second Baptist Church has also partnered with Pathway hosting walk-in application open houses at the Agape Center located at 225 S. Irwin Rd. Holland Ohio, 43528.
“We also have staff located within the East Toledo Family Center assisting those in need of permanent housing,” shares Savage. “The community relationships that we have established and the new opportunities we continue to build help us reach those who were unaware we even existed, yet often need help the most.”
The Home Relief Department is also looking to establish partnerships with Goodwill and several local colleges and universities in the near future.
“We have a large number of college students that rent in our community. Our team has helped a few students who qualified for rental assistance, but we hope to get connected to more students in need,” says Savage.
“We are building relationships with local landlords too. Helping their tenants catch up on late payments helps them as owners in most scenarios as well.”
Approved funds will disperse to landlords and utility companies directly. “These funds help everyone. Many landlords in Toledo extended so much grace to their tenants experiencing hardship from Covid. They deserve just as much help as other small business owners in our community,” says Savage.
Congress provided $5 billion in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to states, metropolitan cities, urban counties and insular areas to prevent, prepare for and respond to Coronavirus.
There are currently three mortgage/rental/utilities assistance programs Pathway offers:
The CARES Program, The CDBG-CV (Community Development Block Grant) and The CAAHRG (Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021 Home Relief Grant).
Eligible applicants must be at or below the Area Median Income, experiencing hardship directly or indirectly due to Covid-19 Pandemic, qualified for unemployment during 2020-2021, experienced a reduction of income and/or risk of homelessness.
Pathway is teaming up with local Community Action Agencies, helping eligible Ohioans who are behind on mortgage/rent, and water and/or sewer utility bills catch up on past payments back to March 13, 2020 and provide additional assistance through September 30, 2022. Staff members will assist applicants with the best program for their individual needs.
“We have a large number of residents we’ve been able to help with current eviction notices. We also provide assistance to those experiencing homelessness and seeking housing. We can’t pay your rent if you don’t have a lease, but we can help pay a new rental deposit and help with first and last month’s rent,” explains Director Savage.
There are a number of ways to apply for assistance. You can come directly into The Pathway agency office located in the Hamilton building or apply online at PathwayToledo.org.
“Pathway is one of the very few programs in Toledo still offering clients the opportunity to walk into the office and receive assistance with your application. Our staff will walk you through the process and tell you what you need to bring as far as supporting documentation is concerned. Often Toledo residents begin the application process at many of our local outreach events or with our community partners,” says Savage.
Pathways Home Relief Department is hitting the ground running in the 2022 new year. They will be extremely active within the community so expect to see them in local libraries and events near you. Follow their activities on their website and social media channels to take part.
“This month alone we are on track to spend 1million dollars in mortgage/rental assistance,” shares Director Savage.
While asked if the money is not all spent, would it be a use-it-or-lose-it scenario, Cynthia replies, “My job is to get these funds to Ohioans in need. So ‘use-it’ to help local residents is our team’s only option! We will continue until our funding sources end in September 2022.”
In addition, Pathway Inc. houses the HEAP, PIPP and the Winter Crisis Programs. They also assist Lucas County residents with Employment and Career Services, Home Energy Assistance, Family Support Services, and community connection programs for Senior Citizens & Disabled Toledoans.