The state of Ohio’s economy came out of the Great Recession of 2008 like many midwestern states: Tired, beaten and desperate to change.

A decade later? Things have changed … mostly for the better.

Ohio, which was 49th among U.S. states in economic growth in 2011, is up to number 38 and climbing in 2019. The state’s low cost of living, great academic institutions and willingness to embrace businesses outside of manufacturing, has sparked a turnaround.

However, like people all over America, Ohioans still grapple with personal debt, especially credit card debt.

Ohio residents have an average of $5,446 in credit card debt, which is below the national average of $5,700,  but these numbers don’t tell the whole story.

Ohio ranks 12th in per capita bankruptcy filings, which seems a bit high for a state with below average debt. Bankruptcy should be the last choice – the nuclear option – for people trying to get out of debt.

There are other solutions like debt management that can provide relief for a smaller cost.

But whether you are $500 or $5,000 in the red, you’re going to need a sound strategy to repay it.

This is where InCharge can help, by providing credit counseling services to steer you on the path toward financial freedom.

Debt Consolidation Options for Ohio Residents

InCharge can consolidate your credit card debts into a single monthly payment through a debt management program. We work with your creditors to cut interest rates and eliminate late fees. The goal is to set you up with a manageable monthly payment that sets you free of the crippling debt cycle. You can apply for our free credit counseling online or over the phone.

Other options you could pursue include debt consolidation loans, debt settlement or just waiting for the statute of limitations to run out on your debt. The statute of limitations refers to the amount of time a business or lender has to collect the debt, either directly or through a court order.  If the statute expires before your creditors take you to court, you still owe the money and it likely will be reported on your credit report, but the business/lender can’t use the courts to compel you to pay.  Put another way, you are then free of legal obligation to repay them.

The statute of limitation on debt in Ohio is six years for an oral agreement, eight years for a written agreement, six years for promissory agreements (i.e. mortgages and student loans), and 15 years for open ended accounts, like credit cards.

However, this doesn’t stop your creditors from reporting your unpaid loans to the credit bureaus, thus tarnishing your credit report for years to come.

Rather than waiting to find out if your creditors will sue you, it’s better to take a proactive approach with your debt by looking into many of the debt-relief options available in Ohio.

Ohio Debt Relief Resources

Governments don’t provide grants directly to individuals struggling with debt, but there are a number of government-funded programs offering services from free healthcare to home repair. These programs can be invaluable to anyone suffering financial hardships or trying to dig their way out of debt.

Here are some debt relief programs and resources available to Ohio residents:

Ohio Weatherization Assistance Program: This program makes repairs to drafty doors, leaky pipes, and inefficient water heater units to lower the cost of your energy bill.

Ohio Works First (OWF): This program provides financial aid to needy families for a period of up to 36 months.

Ohio Medicaid Healthy Start and Healthy Families: A Medicaid program providing free healthcare, which includes doctor visits, hospital care, pregnancy services, vision, dental and mental health services. This program is available to children aged 19-and-under and pregnant women.

Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA): Helps aspiring homeowners with low to moderate incomes by offering 30-year, fixed-rate conventional, FHA, VA and USDA-RD government loans. Down payment assistance lets you choose either 2.5% or 5% of the home’s purchase price.

Save the Dream Ohio: Administered by the Ohio Housing Finance Agency (OHFA), this program helps families in risk of foreclosure by putting them in touch with HUD-approved housing counseling agencies.

Housing Assistance Grant Program: Provides emergency repairs and installations for handicap accessibility. Available to families at or below 50% of median area income.

Ohio Food Assistance Program: The program helps provide nutritious food to low-income households. It’s known federally as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Some people still refer to it as food stamps.

To qualify, you must have a current bank balance (checking and saving combined) under $2,001. You may also qualify with a bank balance under $3,001, if you share your home with a person over the age of 60, or someone with a disability, or if you yourself have a disability.

Also, your annual income must be at or below a certain threshold. For a single individual, that is $16,237 (before taxes). For every additional individual in your household you would add $5,746 to determine if you qualify.

So, a household of two would qualify with an income of $21,983; a household of three qualifies with an income of $27,729.

A household is considered as a group of people who purchase, prepare and share meals together. This doesn’t mean you have to sit at the kitchen table every night for family dinner. It does mean, however, that your roommate who you barely see or the tenant renting out your garage apartment, likely would not qualify as members of your household.

Ohio Debt Statistics

In August of 2019, Ohio Health joined the likes of Amazon and Facebook by raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour. However, tens of thousands of Ohio residents continue to struggle on the states minimum wage of $8.55 an hour, or $17,784 a year for a full-time worker.

A number of Ohio residents are struggling to make ends meet and this is not limited to low- income earners. Ohio’s median income is $54,021, which is $6,315 below the United States average of $60,336. Ohio residents are also some of the worst bearers of student loan debt. According to a Wallet Hub study, Ohio ranks as the 8th worst state for student loans.

None of this is to say that Ohio is in any way a ‘poor’ state. In 2018, Ohio had a GDP of $676 billion, ranking it as the 7th largest state economy, and putting it on par with sovereign nations like Switzerland, Argentina and Poland.

Ohio sits in the heart of the Rust Belt and about 12% of workers are still employed in manufacturing, leading the nation in production of plastics and rubber. However, the Rust Belt is not the region it was in the 70s.

Major cities have seen a sharp decline in population. Cleveland, once ranking as the nation’s 7th largest city with nearly a million residents, has seen its population shrivel to 385,525. Cincinnati’s peak came in the ‘50s and ‘60s when it boasted over half a million residents. The population has since declined to just over 300,000.

Columbus, however, is booming, and with a population of nearly 880,000 residents, it now ranks as the 14th most populous city in the U.S.

Sources

NA, ND. Ohio, #39 in Overall Rankings. Retrieved from https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/ohio

NA. ND. Economy at a Glance. Retrieved from: https://www.bls.gov/eag/eag.oh.htm#eag_oh.f.p

Guzman, G. (2018, September 9). Household Income: 2017. Retrieved from: https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2018/acs/acsbr17-01.pdf

NA. ND. Economic Overview Ohio. Retrieved from: https://development.ohio.gov/files/research/E1000.pdf

Kuhlman, M. (2019, February 19) $15 Minimum Wage: Ohio Lawmakers Try Again. Retrieved from: https://www.clevescene.com/scene-and-heard/archives/2019/02/18/15-minimum-wage-ohio-lawmakers-try-again

McCann, A. (2019, July 10) States with the Most and Least Student Debt. Retrieved from: https://wallethub.com/edu/d/best-and-worst-states-for-student-debt/7520/#main-findings