Frederick County Council Receives Update On How Federal COVID Funds Were Spent

The County received more than $922,000.

Frederick, Md (KM) How Frederick County spend Community Development Block Grant program funds to assist citizens during  the COVID-19 pandemic were outlined Tuesday night to the Council. Susan Brown, the Director of the County’s Department of Housing and Community Development, said the CDBG program is designed to assist county and municipal governments which can apply the money toward neighborhood revitalization, economic development, housing opportunities and improved public facilities and services.

“To assist with the impact of the coronavirus, the state sought applications for a special allocation of CDBG funds. Frederick County was awarded and accepted a $922,129 CBDG award in July of 2020 to support emergency rental assistance and services for senior residents impacted by they coronavirus,”; she said.

Kathy Schay, the Director of the Division of Aging and Independence, says the agency received about $225,000 from the CDBG which was used to bring on a service navigators to connect seniors to needed services as result of COVID,  such as housing and transportation, access to health care including the vaccine, and access to social engagement and mental health services. But she says a lot of the funds were spent on nutrition programs. “Within in several months, the Division’s nutrition programs more than doubled in size, covering the entire county, serving constituents who qualified for nutrition support based on standardized assessments evaluating food insecurity, malnutrition, ability to perform activities of daily living as well as mobility and access to transportation,” Schay says.

A  non-profit which received federal funding was the Religious Coalition for Emergency Human Needs. “We expended just over $600,000 in CDBG funding,”: says Executive Director Nick Brown.

He says part of that money was used to house about 60 homeless people in hotels. A total of 160 people were housed in both  the Alan P. Linton Emergency Shelter on DeGrange Street in Frederick, or area hotels. “We’re very proud to say in that first run, there was no COVID infections that affected the shelter, the staff or otherwise,”: said Brown.

“In parallel, we began a relationship with Frederick Health where they had folks testing positive with no place to live,”: Brown says. “We created a door-to-door process to allow transport from the hospital to the hotel with moving parts in between allowing them to recover and to isolate as well.”

Frederick County also entered into a grant agreement under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which provided emergency rental assistance directly from the US Treasury. That agreement was executed on October, 13th, 2021.

The County says it has spent $876,884.71 from its CDBG grant, and has until June 30th, 2023 to expend the remaining balance.

The COVID-19 pandemic and its response was unprecedented. In the event of future emergencies, Brown says the state has advised the county to consider purchasing a hotel. “We did price around. We were approached a little bit here and there. Nothing worked out, of course,”; she said. “It’s a large sum of money in Frederick County to purchase a hotel. That is something the state is still actually asking us to consider, going forward.”

By Kevin McManus