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County seeking COVID-19 funds

ELKINS — The Randolph County Commission voted unanimously to approve the signing of resolution and other required documents for the CDBG/COVID-19 Grant which will help residents with eviction prevention and utility assistance at a special meeting held Thursday at the James F. Cain Courthouse Annex.

The Randolph County Housing Authority will be applying alongside the county for the grant, which is specifically for eviction prevention. If approved, county residents will be eligible to get assistance for hardships brought on by COVID-19.

“The reason why this grant is there or the understanding behind it is that if you evict someone and you have a pandemic going on, you increase the social services costs to help that individual or that family,” said Jennifer Griggs, grants manager with the Randolph County Housing Authority. “The funding that we are looking for is to pay for a caseworker, who will do intake forms and will work with families and individuals to ensure there is no duplication of services, which is one of the critical items the WVDO requires. And we will also make sure they have a plan to be able to pay their rent moving forward.”

The eviction prevention part of the grant is limited to a maximum of six months in a 12 month period. Help will also be available for those needing assistance with utilities (water, gas, sewer and electric). Assistance for rent and mortgage, as well utilities, can be retroactive back to March of this year when people’s jobs began to be affected by the pandemic.

“If we are lucky enough to receive this grant, and someone comes to us in February of next year and needs payment assistance for April, May and June of last year, and they have proof it was COVID related, we can pay back that rental or mortgage money,” said Griggs. “Not only will this benefit the families, but it will also benefit the economic development of the community by not having rental payments not paid.”

Assistance from the program can go to pay any arrears or current past due bills that are COVID related, which is loss of income because of loss of job, being laid off; reduced hours; having to stay home because of children being homeschooled; or staying at home because of a vulnerable person within your household.

The amount requested for the grant is $172,450. Some of the funding will go toward salary, minor materials, travel, and public information. The amount that would be available for rental or mortgage payments is an estimated $75,000, while $24,000 will be for utilities.

In other action:

The county commission also approved spending $10,400 that will go toward repairing and replacing the outside steps next to the Courthouse Annex. New steps with handrails, as well as a handicap ramp will be constructed as part of the project.

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