Note to the Board of County Commissioners from Mike O’Sullivan
I am writing on behalf of the OneMECK Affordable Housing Committee concerning the “Emergency Assistance and COVID-19 Response Fund Update” topic which is on the agenda for the 8/18/2020 meeting. The “Mortgage, Rent and Utility Assistance” presentation includes a proposal to move $3.4MM in Crisis Intervention Program (CIP) funding from Crisis Assistance to DSS. We strongly feel that it is in the best interest of the community that this CIP funding continue to be allocated to Crisis Assistance.
Crisis Assistance is the one stop shop for a financial emergency and financial stability coaching. They help people stay in their homes in times of financial crisis, then give financial counseling and provide an economic mobility program for people ready to move up the economic ladder.
There are over 100 agencies that refer their customers facing financial crisis directly to Crisis Assistance. It is the only place they have to refer people to. There is no need for them to figure out where to send people needing money for different needs.
If the County takes over administration of the $3.4MM in CIP funding, it has the potential to create complexity and delay. People will need to go to two locations, wait in line & fill out two applications, since CIP will only cover a portion of their emergency financial needs. And, it will be difficult for people to know where to go for what they need, because the criteria for CIP is very limited.
Having all primary funding streams in one location with Crisis Assistance (city, county, federal, faith, corporate, individual, Duke Energy, etc.) to resolve a rent or utility crisis provides a customer-centric model for the prevention of eviction and utility disconnection. This is an efficient process that has a well-established record of success.
For all of these reasons, we urge the County to continue to allocate CIP funding to Crisis Assistance. Thank you for your consideration, and for your service to our community.