Thousands of Ohioans apply for grant money from the state provided amid the pandemic

Thousands of Ohioans apply for grant money from the state provided amid the pandemic

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Thousands of people applied for grants from the state of Ohio this week.

One for small-business owners. One specifically for bars and restaurants. And one for people who need help with mortgage payments and utility bills.

Several people came to 19 News with the trouble they’ve had applying for the money this week.

We told you about the struggle many business owners had with the state’s system when applications first opened Monday.

David Schlunt’s owned a landscaping business for almost 30 years.

“I will always be outside because I love what I do,” he said.

This spring, he says he’s lost about a month’s income before the state deemed landscapers essential and allowed to go back to work. Plus, the current economy continues to cut into his profits.

“People went ahead and bought their own lawn mowers and are doing their own lawn because they’re home anyways,” he said.

When he tried to apply for Ohio’s newest grant for small businesses Monday, he says more attachments were required than the last time he successfully applied in the summer, and he says he couldn’t get through.

The state put up a warning on its website about delays because of high demand.

And, Lt. Governor John Husted acknowledged the issues Thursday.

“We know that early on, we had a few technical challenges there,” he said.

Husted says the state got more than 24,000 applications for the money this week.

Ohio has $125 million to give out in amounts of up to $10,000.

Meaning, only around half of applicants so far will receive funding.

The state says it’s using a first-come-first-serve basis. Knowing the Ohio already had thousands of applications in Monday night, Schlunt says he got discouraged and stopped trying.

“It was probably around nine o’clock at night when I finally gave up. I’d had it by then,” he said. “I just got fed up and said forget it. I talked to a lot of my buddies, and they said they did the same thing. It’s not worth it.”

A spokesperson for the state told 19 investigates that despite issues early on, its system is still open for applications right now.

The hope is that maybe more money will become available in the future, so Ohio encourages all business owners to keep trying to submit.

No word, though, on the order any additional funds would be distributed in.

Todd Walker with Ohio’s Development Services Agency with gave us the following statement:

As expected, there is great interest in the Small Business Relief Grant and the Bar and Restaurant Assistance Fund.

We know some customers experienced delays on Monday while filing their applications.

Those delays were resolved on Monday, and we apologize for any inconvenience customers experienced.

We provided additional information to customers to improve the application process, and we continue to encourage businesses to apply.

As of Thursday at 10:00 a.m., we received more than 24,000 applications.

Our team is currently reviewing applications, and we hope to have this funding to businesses as soon as possible.

According to the state, those business owners who were able to submit applications should start to hear whether they will receive money any day now.

Victoria Stuart’s trying to apply for a different grant.

She’s been home with her three kids this year as her husband attempts to work through the pandemic.

“His hours have been cut a lot,” she said.

By the requirements on the state’s website, she says her family should be eligible for a home relief grant to help with mortgage payments and utility bills.

She’d been listening closely because the governor said the money would be available starting November 2.

But when she got on the computer to apply that day, she got stuck.

"I seen that Dewine, he was trying to tell everybody that this was here for you at a certain day at a certain time, and I thought ok, maybe a little bit of hope, so I go on and there’s nothing.

The state’s website directs people to apply for the grant through the county they live in.

The issue is that in some counties it’s more unclear how to do that, than in others.

“There was nowhere on our county’s website to even attempt to apply,” she said. “I feel like a lot of Ohioans are struggling right now, and I don’t feel like there’s a lot of hope right now.”

That was the case in Trumbull County, until about 24 hours ago.

Now, officials have this phone number posted to its Facebook page, saying people can call it to apply for funds.

We called the number, and someone answered, but our questions about the delay were sent to management, and we haven’t heard back.

When Walker called us back, he said the grant money is being allocated from the state to counties based on population and poverty levels.

Meaning people in Trumbull county are not at a disadvantage because Cuyahoga County got their link to an application up sooner.

We reported that back to Stuart, and she’s hoping that means she can still put her name in the hat.

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