City Manager Kenneth Howard presented an update on emergency funds at the Nov. 4 regular meeting indicating that funds thought to be previously available have either been depleted or reduced. At the Oct. 21, meeting Assistant City Manager Ryan Arnold had reported that American Rescue Plans funds to cover emergency shelter, rent, mortgage and utilities was funded in the amount of $100,000. But the City still had a current balance of $77, 196.66 in that program.
However, at last week’s meeting Howard said that amount was funds spent as of Oct. 1. He said applications continued to be accepted and processed and the amounts of families has grown from 17 to 52 as of Nov. 1. Because of the newly processed application and disbursements of funds, the new remaining balance is only $18,123.22.
Howard also explained why the Hinesville Homeless Prevention Program office was closed briefly. He said the HPP used to do all the client assessments internally. He explained that on Oct. 18, HPP staff was advised by the Department of Community Affairs that they would be moving to a Regional Coordinated Entry approach. The Liberty Coordinated Entry System would become the Coastal Coordinated Entry System and would encompass the following counties: Glynn, Camden, Wayne, Liberty, and McIntosh. Howard said they recently learned Safe Harbor will be taking over as Lead Agency for Coordinated Entry. The City of Hinesville will become a Provider Agency, which will accept referrals from Safe Harbor. But Howard said they had a lot of concerns because DCA was unable to provide any additional information regarding when these changes were to take place or a transition plan. Howard said they immediately met with Safe Harbor officials to work out the kinks in the system and get answers to questions they were concerned about.
“We were able to work through a lot of the nuances, if you will, as to who does what and how do we process these applications,” he said. “We were able to get confirmation from them that the funding will not go away. The funding will stay the same. But there are still some questions pending on how long it would take to process these applications. That is one of the main concerns that even this body has had in terms of the end users getting the help and assistance immediately or in the most expeditious way.”
He said they plan another meeting to get any remaining questions answered.
The Council heard from Arnold about phase three of the American Rescue Plan small business grants. He reported applications were due by Nov. 5, in order to qualify for the remaining funds of $30,000. He said the applications will be reviewed starting Monday and the funds to those who qualified will receive their checks as soon as possible.
The Council approved to extend the current City mask mandates and preventative measures until Dec. 5. Howard said that the City is still in the moderately high category and while they are currently trending downward Howard said removing precautionary measure too soon might lead to another spike as it did in the past.