City Council Focuses on Families First
Investing CARES Funds in Small Businesses,COVID-19 Response and Initial $3M to Help Families Prevent Evictions
[COLUMBUS, OH] On Monday, May 18, 2020, Columbus City Council will vote to accept $157 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding. It will support communities grappling with the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and advance $3 million in immediate rental assistance for families.
"This essential funding allows us to keep fighting for those who have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis," said Pro Tem Elizabeth Brown. "Across our community, families are bearing the brunt of this public health and economic disaster, and they need our undivided attention."
With the passage of ordinance 1129-2020, Council will work with residents and the administration to set priorities to maximize efforts that uplift depressed communities, including the housing and small business sectors.
"We will utilize a deliberative process that incorporates public feedback to guide the use of these funds," continued Brown. "Residents should be confident we are directing dollars where they are most needed."
The CARES Act requires funding to be used for expenditures necessary to address public health issues due to COVID-19 and must be spent by December 31, 2020. It cannot be used to replace revenue. Working with Mayor Andrew J. Ginther’s team, Council is focused on three priority areas or short and long-term need:
- $80 million for direct spending for COVID-19 expenses such as medical expenses for testing, EMS response, personal protective equipment (PPE)
- $51 million for human services such as shelter for those experiencing homelessness, food and rental assistance
- $26 million to address the economic impact such as small business assistance and technology for teleworking
"The needs facing families, unemployed workers and small businesses are real and immediate, and City Council is proud to work with Mayor Ginther and community agencies to use these CARES funds for those impacted by the pandemic," said Council President Shannon G. Hardin. "We are committed to supporting the new needs caused by COVID-19 in the short and long-term as the world transitions during this crisis, and our priority must be on putting families and small businesses first."
During the meeting, Council will also vote on ordinances 1207-2020, 1208-2020 and 1210-2020 to allocate $3 million to address housing, evictions and homelessness, which have been amplified by the pandemic.
- Ordinance 1207-2020: Community Mediation services Housing Stability/Homelessness Prevention Program ($100K). This ordinance provides additional resources to Community Mediation Services, an organization that helps to bring resolutions to pending eviction proceedings between tenants and landlords.
- Ordinance 1208-2020: The Legal Aid Society of Columbus Tenant Advocacy Project ($250K). This 'Right to Counsel,' funding provides five additional attorneys to represent clients experiencing eviction proceedings and work with landlords to find a resolution.
- Ordinance 1210-2020: IMPACT Community Action Hope Fund Match ($2.65M): The tenant-based rental assistance funding will provide support for tenants experiencing economic hardship to pay their rent directly to landlords.
"The economic and financial impact of COVID-19 on Columbus families has been devastating, leaving many unemployed and without the ability to pay rent," said Councilmember Shayla Favor, chair of the Housing Committee. "By providing direct rental assistance to those in need, we are helping to stabilize families and keep them housed, not only preventing an onslaught of evictions but helping to ease the burden on our shelter system."
Impact Community Action was selected to distribute the rental assistance dollars directly to those impacted by COVID-19 and to other partners that already have rental assistance programs, including the Columbus Urban League, COMPASS, Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging and Physicians Care Connection.
"I've always said that if it's not for all, it's not for Columbus, and the efforts we're taking to shore up the most vulnerable residents in our City will benefit all of us," said Council President Hardin. "Not everyone has been hit by this pandemic equally, and we need to level the playing field."
Mayor Ginther also announced the formation of a Recovery and Resiliency Advisory Group to help Columbus bounce back from the economic downturn caused by the pandemic and prepare for the next crisis. Members of the advisory board will be finalized in the coming weeks.
After the areas of greatest need are determined, the short and long-term uses for this federal funding will be announced.