County commissioners approved a resolution Sept. 21 to allow housing and shelter agencies to submit invoices related to acquiring personal protective equipment and COVID-19 testing for reimbursement through the Collin Cares recovery plan. The resolution was approved unanimously, though Commissioner Susan Fletcher was absent from the meeting.
The county adopted the Collin Cares recovery plan May 11 with the goal of assisting families and individuals affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Funding for the program comes from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, which sent more than $171 million in federal aid to Collin County.
“We were [previously] able to come to an arrangement that satisfied all of the rules from the federal government and provide funds to not-for-profit organizations that provide food assurance for families,” County Judge Chris Hill said. “We've done that through a reimbursement program. The court has expanded that and asked if we might also be able to do that for some of our not-for-profits that provide housing needs to the people of Collin County.”
Commissioners heard from Samaritan Inn CEO Rick Crocker, Hope’s Door New Beginning Center CEO Christina Coultas, City House CEO Sheri Messer and Agape Resource & Assistance Center CEO Janet Collinsworth on the challenges such organizations have faced during the pandemic.
“The cost of providing housing shelter response and recovery has been at times overwhelming to our organizations and has certainly been a strenuous burden,” Crocker said.
In addition to each of their organizations, Crocker said the four speakers were also representing other county agencies that provide housing and shelter services in the county. Collinsworth said those organizations are the first line of defense in the county.
“We want to be around in January, February, March, when the second wave of the evictions hits and the increase in homelessness occurs again,” Collinsworth said. “We already see it in Plano. The number of homeless on the street is increasing.”
Commissioners also talked about providing reimbursements to housing and shelter agencies for cleaning and sanitation costs they have incurred during the pandemic but did not take any action. Denton County has a similar program it has already implemented, so Hill said staff would have a conversation with Collin County’s neighbor to the west to discuss metrics for quantifying expenses.
The Collin Cares program provides financial aid for housing, utilities and groceries. The recovery plan also assists with funding for COVID-19 testing, personal protective equipment and Collin County cities’ COVID-19 costs and recovery efforts. Additional details on the Collin Cares program are available at www.collincountytx.gov.