Missouri City City Council presents survey results, proposes priorities for COVID-19 aid spending

With its $4.1 million of CARES Act funding, Missouri City is proposing a small business grant program and a mortgage, rental and utilities assistance program. (Claire Shoop/Community Impact Newspaper)
With its $4.1 million of CARES Act funding, Missouri City is proposing a small business grant program and a mortgage, rental and utilities assistance program. (Claire Shoop/Community Impact Newspaper)

With its $4.1 million of CARES Act funding, Missouri City is proposing a small business grant program and a mortgage, rental and utilities assistance program. (Claire Shoop/Community Impact Newspaper)

During its Sept. 8 meeting, Missouri City City Council received results from a community survey on how the city should prioritize spending federal coronavirus relief funds for public outreach projects.

Out of 180 responses received, 90 people said that a mortgage, rental and utility assistance programs should be the highest priority. Other proposed assistance programs include help for small businesses and personal protective equipment for senior citizens.

Additionally, residents requested funds be used for PPE and food assistance, hazard pay for public safety employees and efforts to increase safety, and sanitation at public facilities—all expenses for which Trameka Jewett, Missouri City’s emergency management coordinator, said the city is eligible to be reimbursed with Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funds.

However, residents also wanted HOA fees to be waived, taxes frozen or lowered, broad health care help and child care assistance, none of which are allowable uses of CARES Act funding, Jewett said.

“This grant can only cover things that are particular to COVID[-19],” Jewett said. “The key with this is that everything has to be tied with COVID[-19] for us to be able to get reimbursed for the money that we spend.”

During the Sept. 8 meeting, City Council authorized the city manager to contract with MPACT Strategic Consulting, which will help the city carry out the programs for small business grants and for mortgage and rental assistance.


For the mortgage, rental and utility assistance program, MPACT President and CEO Spurgeon Robinson presented a matrix for prioritizing applicants according to whether they are facing an immediate eviction, their level of income and if members of vulnerable age groups live in the household.

Documents presented show funds would be distributed to residents according to that applicant's priority status until money for the program is exhausted. During the Aug. 3 City Council meeting, staff said a mortgage, rental and utility assistance fund would have $500,000 in it and that families could apply for grants up to $2,500.

Mayor Yolanda Ford questioned whether income data ought to be used to determine who receives mortgage, rental and utility assistance.

“The situation with that is [when] you have a community where the average income on the low end is $80,000 and a pandemic that has affected everyone regardless of their income, it becomes a little problematic,” Ford said.

Robinson said MPACT proposed prioritization by income so that the relief reaches the most vulnerable residents. Furthermore, since Fort Bend County is offering a similar rent assistance program, Robinson said he believes Missouri City’s aid will be able to reach residents who might not have qualified for Fort Bend County’s funding, which had an income requirement. Applicants will be screened to make sure rent relief efforts are not duplicated.

In March, the U.S. Congress passed the CARES Act, which allocated money to the city through the counties. Missouri City is eligible to be reimbursed for $4.1 million dollars from Fort Bend and Harris counties on coronavirus-related expenditures through the end of the year.

In addition to the public outreach efforts, CARES Act funding will also support a small business assistance program, safety upgrades to city facilities and other pandemic response efforts, according to a presentation by Fire Chief Eugene Campbell during the Aug. 3 council meeting.

Moving forward, Campbell, City Manager Odis Jones and MPACT will work to develop a timeline to set up the assistance programs. Coronavirus-related expenditures must occur prior to Dec. 30 in order to qualify for reimbursement under the CARES Act.



By Claire Shoop
Claire joined Community Impact Newspaper in September 2019 as the reporter for the Sugar Land/Missouri City edition. She graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in May 2019 where she studied journalism, government and Arabic. While in school, Claire was a fellow for The Texas Tribune, worked for the student newspaper, The Daily Texan, and spent a semester in Washington, D.C. She enjoys playing cards with her family and listening to the Boss, Bruce Springsteen.


MOST RECENT

Dr. Sam Rolon is a physician for Baylor St. Luke's Medical Group Creekside Family Medicine in The Woodlands. (Courtesy St. Luke's Health)
Q&A: St. Luke's physician shares advice on flu season, vaccine and prevention

The influenza vaccine is recommended for nearly all patients of all ages ahead of this year's flu season, Dr. Sam Rolon said.

student in mask
TEA launches statewide COVID-19 dashboard for public schools

The Texas Education Agency, in collaboration with the Texas Department of State Health Services, has launched its latest COVID-19 dashboard for positive cases in Texas public schools.

The Houston Food Bank is looking for more volunteers as it handles increased food distribution during COVID-19. (Courtesy Houston Food Bank)
Houston Food Bank: COVID-19 pandemic amplifies already-high food insecurity rates across region

Before COVID-19, the Houston Food Bank distributed about 400,000 pounds of food daily. That number has since increased to about 1 million pounds a day.

Gov. Greg Abbott said Sept. 17 that data from Texas' 22 hospital regions will dictate when certain businesses can reopen at 75% capacity. (Screenshot of Sept. 17 press conference)
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott: Retail stores, restaurants, office buildings, gyms can reopen at 75% capacity as early as Sept. 21

Nursing home and long-term care facilities will also be allowed to reopen for visitation as early as Sept. 24.

Districtwide, 59.81% of FBISD students will remain online, while 40.19% will return for in-person learning. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
DATA: See how many students will receive in-person, online learning for each Fort Bend ISD campus

Districtwide, 59.81% of FBISD students will remain online, while 40.19% will return for in-person learning.

(Courtesy Curry Masala)
Curry Masala opens in The Woodlands and more Houston-area news

Read the latest business and community news from Greater Houston.

One in five children and adults have a learning disability, according to statistics from the National Center for Learning Disabilities. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Q&A: National Center for Learning Disabilities expert discusses challenges of special education, remote learning during pandemic

The NCLD's director of policy and advocacy spoke about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on special education students and their development in and out of the classroom.

Explore Fort Bend ISD's enrollment numbers, teacher statistics, superintendent salary and more. (Graphic by Chase Brooks/Community Impact Newspaper)
Fort Bend ISD enrollment continues to grow; plus, other student, teacher statistics

Explore Fort Bend ISD's enrollment numbers, teacher statistics, superintendent salary and more.

2020 Nutcracker Market
Houston Ballet Nutcracker Market 2020 moves fall event fully online

Last year's event drew over 100,000 shoppers.

Fort Bend ISD will phase students who choose face-to-face back into the classroom Sept. 28-Oct. 9. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Fort Bend ISD trustees OK timeline for face-to-face learning, express concerns about district's plan

During the meeting, the board was provided more information on the instructional plan and schedules for both online and in-person learning models.

Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts Glenn Hegar shared details on the state's financial situation ahead of the 2021 legislative session during a Transportation Advocacy Group virtual event. (Screenshot via Transportation Advocacy Group)
Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar discusses state budget, economic planning

Hegar shared his outlook on the state's finances and economic outlook in a September TAG Houston livestream.

An audit of Missouri City’s internal controls has found $20,000 of expenditures made between October 2018-February 2019 with funds from the city’s public, educational and government fund that do not align with the limited use of these funds. (Claire Shoop/Community Impact Newspaper)
Missouri City City Manager Odis Jones reports misuse of funds to City Council

An audit of Missouri City’s internal controls has found $20,000 of expenditures made between October 2018-February 2019 with funds from the city’s public, educational and government fund that do not align with the limited use of these funds.