Today, County Executive Calvin Ball signed emergency legislation providing $6.5 million in pandemic aid to support residents and businesses. Tuesday night, the Howard County Council unanimously voted to pass the bill, which was introduced by the County Executive in December 2020.
The aid includes:
· $2 million for the Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA) to issue additional grants;
· $1 million for Howard County General Hospital (HCGH) to continue creating infrastructure for additional patient capacity;
· $1 million in housing assistance to prevent evictions and foreclosures;
· $1 million for food and utility bill assistance;
· And $1.5 million for extension of vital educational support and childcare programs like HoCo Scholars and RecZone.
“This funding is vital to our community as local and state governments continue to be omitted from federal relief,” said Ball.” 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. Thank you to the Howard County Council for supporting this effort. What is most clear, is that many people cannot wait for relief and action is needed now.”
“Passing Council Bill 3, was imperative for the emergency relief efforts of COVID-19,” said Councilman Dr. Opel Jones. “COVID-19 has ravished our communities, and anything my colleagues and I can do for our communities impacted, is much needed.”
“My office has heard from countless Howard County families who have felt the pain of housing instability and economic duress as the COVID-19 pandemic continues,” said Councilwoman Christiana Rigby. “These additional resources are painfully necessary to provide housing assistance, food and utility support, and small business funds to so many of our neighbors and community members in need. I’m grateful to County Executive Ball for putting forward these funds, and I look forward to their quick disbursement to provide relief for Howard County families.”
“Residents suffering from COVID-related household income losses are struggling to keep their homes,” said Kelly Cimino, Director of the Department of Housing and Community Development. “While many homeowners entered forbearance plans with their mortgage lenders, some did not. When the Governor’s moratorium on foreclosures expires on January 31st, this funding will help residents pay past due mortgage payments, avoid foreclosure and stay safely housed.”
“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 Department of Recreation & Parks 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 Ahemd, 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.”