The county focused these federal funds in areas of high-need, including housing assistance, food programs, local businesses and nonprofits, according to Director of Community Relations Dawn Cobb. This funding must be spent by Dec. 31, she said.
Many have been helped so far, Cobb said, but the demand for assistance remains high.
“Here we are, four and a half months into [the pandemic],” Cobb said. “And it’s serious. And a lot of people have been affected.”
When CARES Act funds were introduced in early May, between $30,000-$35,000 in assistance from the county was handed out each week, Cobb said.
Denton County earmarked $20 million for one of its largest recognized needs: housing assistance. The county then tapped the United Way of Denton County to distribute funds.
United Way used its own funds to assist with eviction prevention in March and April before shifting to distributing county funds, United Way CEO Gary Henderson said.
This amount doubled in June and then increased to $159,000 for the week of July 20, Henderson said.
“We know the volume of need is going to only increase throughout the summer and into the fall,” he said.
The county set aside $2 million for nonprofit efforts and charged United Way with helping to distribute those funds through an online portal called Denton County Cares.
County Director of Administration Shannon Joski said officials are monitoring need so that if grant funds run low, the county can adjust its allocations. County officials do not anticipate running out of resources by year’s end, she said.
As of Aug. 19, the county has allocated $35.1 million in funds for small business grants to more than 1,300 businesses through the second phase of Denton County’s Operational Plan for Economic Normalization.
The amount exceeds the county’s initial projection and will impact funding for other areas, Cobb said.
Based on guidance from the governor’s office, Denton County also chose to distribute $45 million in CARES Act funding to its cities. Each city is allowed to use those funds for COVID-19-related expenses.
At the end of May, new federal guidelines also allowed cities to use CARES Act funding on payroll for public safety and health employees as well, Joski said.