With $92.8 million in federal CARES Act funding nearly exhausted, Montgomery County will stop taking applications sooner than expected for coronavirus pandemic relief programs.
Enrollment ends Friday for seven programs that are intended to help cover financial losses due to the coronavirus, including programs for homeowners, small businesses and farmers. The deadline for CARES Act programs through Montgomery County — including one for rental assistance aimed to stave off evictions — is two weeks later.
The revised application deadlines come weeks earlier than expected for the federal funds that must be out the door by the end of the year, according to the county.
“If Montgomery County were to continue processing applications and spend over our $92.8 million, the money to cover that overspending would have to come from our general fund budget, which has already been greatly reduced this year,” said Montgomery County Administrator Michael Colbert.
The county trimmed $30 million this year from its general fund budget in phased cuts due to pandemic-related revenue losses. The adjustments affected economic development programs, building renovations and County hiring, all of which were halted or reduced.
Enrollment will end Friday in Montgomery County programs to aid homeowners behind in their mortgages as well as for small businesses, farmers, nonprofits, educational institutions, and childcare, daycare and health care providers. Enrollment for a utility payment program and rental housing assistance will end Nov. 13.
Lisa Stempler, CEO of Miami Community Action Partnership (MVCAP), said the organization administering the rental housing assistance program was notified Friday that Montgomery County wanted a final invoice for the program no later than Nov. 13. In order to meet that deadline, MVCAP would not be able to take applications later than Nov. 6, Stempler said.
Stempler said MVCAP has a meeting with the county today to sort out final reporting for the rental assistance program.
As of Oct. 14, about 1,400 households received a little over $3.7 million in rental assistance, but short of the $5 million allocated for the program, Stempler said.
Renters still in need of assistance will be given until Nov. 13 to apply, Wooten said Monday.
Montgomery County residents who apply by the new deadlines for individual housing programs are likely to still get approved. But nonprofits seeking larger grants may find funds unavailable.
“I don’t think people who apply for utility and rental assistance and things like that need to worry so much,” she said. “But they do need to get their application in by the deadline.”
The county’s CARES Act funding was budgeted in seven buckets, some which accounted for multiple programs.
The total estimated Montgomery County CARES Act disbursements include the following:
- $5,000,000, Agricultural support
- $5,000,000, Rental assistance,
- $9,670,440, Internal Montgomery County expenses
- $13,354,841, Small business grants
- $15,750,000, Mortgage and utility assistance
- $20,000,000, Nonprofit support
- $24,000,000, Education support
The Montgomery County Office of CARES Act has processed about 3,000 applications to date, said Marvene Mitchell-Cook, director of the office.
The county awarded $8 million — the largest single grant — to the St. Vincent de Paul Society for multiple projects at area homeless shelters.
“The the major goal that we have to accomplish is creating appropriate social distancing. We’ve lost a third of our space because of social distancing,” said Michael Vanderburgh, St. Vincent de Paul executive director.
Work includes the construction of a new day building at the Gateway Shelter for Men that allows for socially-distanced meal distribution and space for services and programming. The building will allow gymnasium space currently used for those purposes to be converted to socially-distanced bed capacity, according to the county’s agreement with St. Vincent de Paul.
More bed space will also be gained at St. Vincent de Paul’s Apple Street Shelter through other renovations. A bathroom renovation there will create eight separated bathrooms to better help families distance from each other.
Vanderburgh said the overall daily capacity of the shelters before the pandemic was around 600 but now is roughly 400, with some of those housed at a local hotel. When completed, the projects should allow room for everyone at the shelter, including in winter months when more people are expected to need shelter.
“With our partnership with Montgomery County, we’re both preparing as best we can to avoid turning anyone away from shelter who needs it and still keep the social distancing that the pandemic requires,” Vanderburgh said.
Last week, Montgomery County commissioners approved $2 million toward the installation of a Wi-Fi system in five public housing communities. Today, they are expected to approve an $800,000 grant for the YWCA Dayton to improve its domestic violence emergency shelter to mitigate the effects of COVID-19.
Emergency shelter and housing programs - which serve about 100 women and children a day in domestic violence situations - can’t be put on hold during the pandemic, said Audrey Starr, YWCA Dayton director of marketing and communications.
“We’ve never shut our doors, we’ve never paused,” she said. “But that also means that our needs are higher for making sure that we have appropriate PPE, that we have appropriate resources to be increasing sanitation and cleaning — even more so than we usually do. Making sure that we have alternate shelter locations so that we can spread our clients out as much as possible and continue social distancing."
While the costs of using hotels as additional shelter sites has gone up, so has the cost for new technology to keep crisis support specialists and case managers in touch with clients, Starr said.
“We certainly did not come into 2020 expecting to need to put any of these measures into place,” she said.
Officials earlier said Montgomery County would have up to $200 million to spend if the first round of funding was exhausted.
“That $200 million was actually based on our own internal early projections based on what the federal government was saying,” Wooten said. “We thought that there will be an additional allocation based on the federal government’s early language. That is not the case.”
The county doesn’t expect to get any new coronavirus relief soon, but a new Congress seated next year may take a different tack, said Montgomery County Commission President Judy Dodge.
“There’s still a lot of need out there. This is just almost — I hate to say — a drop in the bucket,” she said. “Hopefully they’ll be able to talk about this and be able to realize that there is still a great need throughout the country — it isn’t just us. And maybe the Republicans and Democrats will get together and help.”
More information about the programs and how to apply can be found at www.mcohiocares.org.
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