Here’s how Montgomery County will distribute Round 1 CARES Act funding

Montgomery County commissioners met May 26 in Conroe. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Montgomery County commissioners met May 26 in Conroe. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)

Montgomery County commissioners met May 26 in Conroe. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)

Montgomery County commissioners approved the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funding plan for the county May 26.

On April 21, the Montgomery County Community Development was notified that it would receive $2,416,459 in Round 1 CARES Act funding, Director of Community Development Joanne Ducharme said. The entity expects to assist 935 households to avoid eviction and homelessness with Round 1 funding.

“It is specifically to assist residents who were unemployed or furloughed because of the crisis, and they specifically assist with economic recovery in the county,” Ducharme said.

Requirements include at least 70% of funds must go to people below 80% of the area median income, which in Montgomery County is $44,150 for an individual income and $63,050 for a household of four income, Ducharme said.

“This is going to hit an awful lot of people in the county, including teachers,” she said.

The homelessness prevention portion will be used for rent and utility assistance and may be used for deposits and rent for street and shelter homeless. One hundred percent of these funds will go to people at or below 50% of the area median income, which in Montgomery County is $27,600 for an individual income and $39,400 for a household income for four.

“Those are for people who are really struggling, those are for the salon workers and many of the people in restaurants,” she said.

The county’s community development conducted a survey of the 155 nonprofits and churches in the county and asked what the county’s largest needs were. Rent, utilities, prescriptions and food were the highest. The eastern part of the county was seen as having the greatest need, followed by west, north and south.

The area with the lowest unemployment and lowest poverty rate, besides Bentwater, was The Woodlands.

Bases on survey results, Ducharme said she did not want to give out one month of rent assistance and have landlords evict people anyways, so the group determined it would be best to give up to two months' rent and utilities and some prescription assistance.

“My committee went through a great deal of hashing around and trying to figure out what we’re going to do with the funds, what would be the most impactful thing we could do,” she said.

The two months was chosen because it is roughly the period that quarantine lasted, she said. The entity opted not to do mortgage assistance because homeowners are slower to be foreclosed, she said.

“It’s the rentals that are the big problem,” she said.

Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack asked if the plan could be amended to include mortgages, and Ducharme said that would be up to the commissioners.

The nonprofits that were chosen are: Crisis Assistance Center, which will assist countywide and will be allocated $422,988; Mission Northeast, which will target the county’s heavily hit areas and will also be given $422,988; Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Conroe and the northern parts of county such as Willis at $265,000; Society of Samaritans in the west county at $265,000; and Interfaith of The Woodlands at $265,000 with instructions to focus particularly on Tamina.

The Humble Area Assistance Ministries declined to take funds because it would not be able to hire staff to help distribute funds, per the requirements of the funding.

Ducharme said she is requiring organizations to coordinate so there are no gaps in funding the county.

“My nightmare is to have money sitting in one organization that they couldn’t spend out while another organization runs out,” she said.

The remaining funds will go to public services for rapid rehousing and homelessness prevention.

Ducrharme added she expects Round 2 funding to come “any day.” Round 2 is half the amount of Round 1 and will be used for food distributions and for the elderly and children, she said. The allocation method for Round 3 has not yet been determined, and Montgomery County may not receive any of these funds.

Commissioners approved the plan with a motion to add mortgages on a case-by-case basis.
By Eva Vigh
Eva Vigh joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2018 as a reporter for Spring and Klein. Prior to this position, she covered upstream oil and gas news for a drilling contractors' association.


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