Douglas County votes to designate portion of CARES Act money to rent, utilities

Published: Jun. 30, 2020 at 6:19 PM CDT
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On a unanimous vote the Douglas County Board today declared an emergency and set aside four million dollars in CARES Act funds for utility assistance for Douglas County residents who are behind in their bills due to the pandemic.

Utilities plan to resume shutoffs. OPPD will mail disconnect notices July 1, MUD Gas disconnects begin in August, and the water shuts off in September.

Commissioners believe quick action is needed to save those behind in their bills from cut-offs.

Commissioners also revealed a plan to distribute 10 million dollars of CARES Act funds for rental assistance for family’s who are dealing with the financial impacts of COVID-19.

Last week there was a suggestion to let nonprofit organizations distribute ten million CARE Act dollars, but today officials revealed a plan, that calls for the county to distribute the funds, in order to save time.

“One we just can’t give money to non-profits that we would like to give them to under federal regulations we would have to do an application process which takes longer then we have to vet the application summited by nonprofits,” said Patrick Bloomingdale, Chief Administrative Officer.

Low income Douglas County residents are eligible for the funds, not to exceed three months of a household’s rental needs or a $3,000 rental cap, whichever comes first.

Non-profits will help guide their clients to the Douglas County program, but some nonprofits are not happy with all the requirements.

The funds will go directly to landlords and landlords must agree not to evict tenants for the months the county has assisted the client with rental assistance.

County officials must now design and an online system where people can apply for financial assistance, and then circulate the information to the proper channels and the media, they hope to be distributing the rental assistance in one to two weeks.

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