County Executive Calvin Ball has designated $200k in relief funds to the Community Action Council (CAC) for food assistance in Howard County. The funds are part of the initial $500k Disaster Relief and Recovery Initiative in his proposed Fiscal Year 2021 operating budget and are subject to the approval of the County Council. Howard County has also allocated $800k in County funding for rental assistance and eviction relief for low- and moderate-income families, with $300K coming from the Disaster Relief and Recovery Initiative in the proposed budget and $500k coming from Moderate Income Housing Unit (MIHU) fee-in-lieu revenue sources. These funds will be in addition to the anticipated $770k in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) program funds received directly from the federal government under the CARES Act.
“As we continue to battle this virus, we must put into place adequate support programs and infrastructure to make sure no one falls through the cracks,” said Ball. “With more than 23,000 renters in the county, the need for rental assistance and eviction prevention will likely exceed what we’ve received in federal relief, which is why we’re allocating an additional $800k. Moreover, we’ve seen nearly 23,000 residents file for unemployment since March making food insecurity a critical issue for our residents, this relief funding will provide much-needed support to our local food bank working on the front line.”
“We are delighted to receive this significant and impactful support from County Executive Ball. This contribution, once again, demonstrates County Executive Ball ‘s strong commitment to the most vulnerable residents in our county,” said Bita Dayoff, President of Community Action Council of Howard County. “Furthermore, this grant will enable CAC to continue to meet the monumental challenge and humanitarian crisis that has been caused by the coronavirus. In just six weeks, since mid-March, the Howard County Food Bank has served more than 12,000 individuals who unexpectedly found themselves in the midst of a financial crisis which left their families in danger of hunger and potential homelessness.”
To satisfy the statutory requirements of the CDBG program to distribute the federal funds, the County will be submitting a substantial amendment to its FY2019 Annual Action Plan and will host a series of public hearings via WebEx identifying the immediate needs, discuss potential actions to meet these needs and provide instructions on how to apply for CDBG funds under the CARES Act. The application deadline is May 22, 2020. Details on the grants can be found here.
The additional $800k in County funding will provide additional rental assistance and eviction prevention resources to help low- and moderate-income families maintain housing stability. The Housing Department will use the same CDBG application request and process to award these funds to our nonprofit housing partners, so they can distribute it to residents as quickly as possible.
“Our nonprofit partners are telling us that the County’s low- and moderate-income families are struggling. If they are not able to work, they are not able to pay their rent” said Kelly Cimino, Department of Housing Director. “When the emergency order is lifted, many families could be facing homelessness. We want to do what we can to help families pay their rent and stay in their existing homes.”
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was signed into law on March 27, 2020, and made $5 billion in supplemental Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds available to entitlement jurisdictions. A provision in the CARES Act requires that expenditures be incurred “due to” the public health emergency means that expenditures must be used for actions taken to respond to the public health emergency. These may include expenditures incurred to allow the State, territorial, local, or Tribal government to respond directly to the emergency, such as by addressing medical or public health needs, as well as expenditures incurred to respond to second-order effects of the emergency, such as by providing economic support to those suffering from employment or business interruptions due to COVID-19-related business closures.