The Osceola County Commission approved a plan Monday to spend the first portion of federal CARES Act funding to assist financially-strapped county residents, businesspeople and food pantries.
The county will funnel $16.3 million, about 25 percent of a total of $65.5 million the government must distribute to municipal governments by Dec. 30, into programs to assist businesses and residents impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the meeting — which was also held to extend the County’s emergency declaration for a mind-boggling sixteenth time, as these declarations are only valid for a week — commissioners agreed on a staff plan to use 70 percent for rental or mortgage Assistance, 20 percent for small business assistance and 10 percent for food insecurity assistance.
“We have been delayed compared to larger counties because of the way the funding was funneled through the state. This delay will make it harder to serve our residents but I am confident we can get this done and make a difference in many lives,” Osceola Commission Chairwoman Viviana Janer said . “We realize that it is imperative to move forward as quickly as possible and will focus on getting these badly needed dollars into the hands of our citizens sooner rather than later they can have a sense of security during these uncertain times.”
Here’s a look at the math: Human Services will receive $13 million for rental and mortgage assistance and for food distribution, and $3.2 million will go to Economic Development for small business assistance.
The county created an account for the remaining $49 million to come, which will be used for potential future reimbursement of programs targeted to assist individuals and businesses.
Osceola has used community development grants to offer rental assistance, but demand has consistently exceeded funding in previous rounds. Another round of applications using CDBG funds will be taken July 6-8, and a lottery will choose who receives the 500 grants available.
Meanwhile, the Osceola County Emergency Economic Relief Grant Program funded at $500,000 from an economic development fund is ongoing to help businesses with 25 or fewer employees. Go to www.weveopenedsafely.com/grant-program for more information and the application.