Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced emergency legislation to reallocate $6.5 million of Howard County funds in FY2021 to immediately ensure critical pandemic support for residents, businesses, and families.
The aid includes:
· $2 million for the Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA) to issue additional grants and low interest loans;
· $1 million for Howard County General Hospital (HCGH) to continue creating infrastructure for additional ICU and bed capacity;
· $1 million in housing assistance to prevent evictions and foreclosures;
· $1 million for food and utility bill assistance;
· And $1.5 million for the extension of vital educational support and childcare programs like HoCo Scholars and RecZone.
“Over the past ten months, we have used every tool in our toolbox to ensure the health and safety of our community,” said Ball. “While we are encouraged that Congress is acting to extend the CARES Act spending deadline, the recent Congressional relief package unfortunately provides no additional funding for State and local governments as we prepare for a winter surge. At this moment, it is necessary for Howard County to once again step up and ensure the well-being of our residents and businesses. We all know there are brighter days on the horizon, but this pandemic is far from over. What is most clear, is many people cannot wait for relief and action is needed now.”
“The CDC order on evictions expires on December 31st,” said Kelly Cimino, Director of the Howard County Department of Housing and Community Development. “The Governor’s moratorium on foreclosures will expire on January 31st. While the moratoriums have helped, the past due rent and mortgage payments are still accruing and residents experiencing COVID-related income losses are really struggling to keep their housing. We are hopeful that this much needed funding will help more than 200 residents stay safely housed this winter.”
“The RecZone program has provided affordable, flexible childcare during these unprecedented times. Our eight locations serve about 160 students each week and provide free lunches each day in partnership with the Howard County Public School System,” said Howard County Recreation & Parks Department Director Raul Delerme. “We are very grateful to County Executive Ball for allocating these additional funds so that we can continue supporting these families.”
“The Department of Community Resources and Services (DCRS) is committed to doing its part to make sure this investment reaches those in our community who are in need,” said DCRS Director Jacqueline R. Scott. “Programs like HoCo Scholars provide critical social and emotional development supports and college and career readiness skills, while also serving as a positive resource for families that are striving to maintain academic and social engagement for their children. Our ability to help families maintain their health and well-being is of the utmost importance during these challenging times. We are grateful to be able to continue to serve them.”
“This funding will allow us to help even more small businesses who have been severely impacted by this extended pandemic and we appreciate the County Executive’s commitment to support our local economy,” said Larry Twele, CEO of the HCEDA. “It is important that we do everything we can to help so our businesses survive and are here to provide the important goods and services we all value.”
“The hospital thanks the County for recognizing the need for expanding our infrastructure for behavioral health services,” said Dr. Shafeeq Ahmed, Interim President of HCGH. “This funding will allow us to transition our emergency behavioral health unit to a new, larger location that will improve patient flow and keep staff and patients safely distanced.”
In June, Howard County received $56.8 million in funding of which $41.4 million was directly appropriated for Howard County Government. This funding has been granted to provide the following types of support to our community:
- Over $11 million in business assistance grants;
- Nearly $6 million to the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) for virtual learning assistance and technology procurement;
- Nearly $6 million in total rental assistance support for County residents, including $1.6 million in CARES Act funding;
- Over $2.1 million in grants for more than 40 non-profits, who have been vital in serving the needs of our most vulnerable residents throughout this pandemic;
- $850,000 to subsidize the RecZone program, helping over 150 Howard County families address the child care needs created by the pandemic;
- $750,000 to the HoCo Scholars program, providing supplemental support to virtual learning through social and emotional development and enrichment activities;
- $500,000 to provide energy bill assistance to support 1,500 families who sought help from the Community Action Council;
- $450,000 to improve food access through support for our local food banks and meal deliveries for those who cannot access food distribution centers;
- $650,000 in grants for Howard County live venues;
- And $100,000 for the arts community, supporting seven artist organizations and 39 individual artists.