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Columbia City Council approved another round of CARES Act funding to local non-profits

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

The Columbia City Council approved another round of CARES Acting funding to help people in the community with rent, food and other living necessities.

The council heard from members of the public during a hearing related to funding recommendations for the 3rd round of allocation of the Community Development Block Grant, funded through the Federal CARES Act.

The total amount of allocations was doled out by the Housing and Community Development Commission $797,588. The commission divided that amount among 14 different entities, including rental assistance, food pantries, utility help and other social services.

Housing Programs Manager for the city Randy Cole said the commission formulated the recommendations after surveying the community and sending out a call for organizations to send in requests.

"There's a lot of different things to consider when allocating public resources so they took a really deep dive into what's the best way to allocate these resources," Cole said. "It was a very thorough discussion, and a very challenging one because we are seeing the needs are so high."

Cole said the need has continued to stay high because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Columbia has not been spared. He said this money will be used to stabilize homes that are in need right now, which will in turn boost business as well.

"Investing in the people that need our funds right here is a good investment for not only for the family but for our local economy," Cole said.

Several members of the public and council members expressed concerns that the list of groups getting funding did not represent minority populations well enough.

City Councilwoman Pat Fowler asked the city to consider other funding for minority led non-profits in the near future.

The Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri will get $121,000 from this round of funding. Spokesman Seth Wolfmeyer said those dollars would go toward food and funding more staff, as it still can't use as many volunteers.

He said the pantry has been seeing an increase as we are almost a year into the pandemic. He said toward the end of 2020, the Central Pantry was serving 12,000 people when it is usually 10,000 in years prior.

"A lot more people are coming by because they are out of work, maybe their saving accounts have been drained after some many months of the pandemic, and financially things are just tough on them," Wolfmeyer said.

Keeping adequate staff and volunteers has been a big issue for non-profits throughout the pandemic. Wolfmeyer said this funding will help in several ways.

"Really it's one piece of a larger puzzle," Wolfmeyer said. "All of the help we are receiving right now is critical in making sure we can purchase the food we need and also the logistical side of things; transportation, staff, this will help out a lot especially with that staffing at Central Pantry."

A rental assistance agency Love Inc. Columbia is also on the list to receive $60,000. Executive director Jane Williams said the organization received CARES Act funding last year as well, which helped them provide assistance to 200 families.

"People really are still in recovery from the pandemic and a lot of help is still needed," Williams said. "In order to just not have a lot more people evicted and on the street, especially people with children, we really do need to provide more rent assistance during this crisis."

She said there are many factors that are still keeping people from being economically stable because of the pandemic.

"For now, especially with children not in school full time, it's still very hard on parents trying to work full time," Williams said. "And then some jobs still haven't recovered... so I think it's very important."

If the funding proposal is approved by the council tonight, it will then have to go through the federal government before the organization will see those dollars. Cole said it could be anywhere from two weeks to 30 days.

ABC17 News will be at the meeting tonight. Check back for updates and watch ABC17 News at 9 and 10 for the latest.

Columbia City Government / Columbia Video / Coronavirus / News / Politics / Top Stories / Top Stories / Video

Connor Hirsch

Connor Hirsch reports for the weekday night shows, as well as Sunday nights.

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