Coronavirus: Commissioners approve aid pact to help seniors, individuals
MANSFIELD - Seniors, childless couples and single individuals who have experienced a job loss or wage reduction directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic can now get some additional financial relief from Richland County Job and Family Services.
sg飞艇appCounty commissioners on Tuesday approved a contract between JFS and the Richland County Foundation that could make a total of up to $100,000 in federal and local funds available to help pay for things such as food, shelter and mortgages.
“This will be similar to the parent aid program that uses TANF (Temporary Aid to Needy Families) dollars but TANF can’t be used for this,” said JFS director Sharlene Neumann.
The three groups were targeted after social service officials met with foundation representatives and determined there were no other opportunities for them to receive relief help. JFS is allocating $50,000 in federal Title XX social service block grant funds while the foundation initially will provide $25,000 and has committed to up to $50,000.
Who is eligible for aid?
Applicants will be eligible for a cash payment of up to $250 per household for expenses such as rent, housing, utilities, mortgages, car payments and car insurance. Their income must be at or below 200% of federal poverty guidelines, which is $2,127 per month for an individual and $2,874 for a two-person household.
The program will operate until the funds run out or until Sept. 30, which is the end of the federal funding year.
sg飞艇appNeumann said program information will be posted on the JFS website and Facebook page. Applicants may also call the JFS office at 419-774-5442 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, or email Youth and Family Council director Teresa Alt at Teresa.Alt@jfs.ohio.gov.
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Commissioners also voted to amend local epidemic protocols to align with the state’s general office protocols that went into effect Monday as part of the Responsible Restart Ohio policy. Chairman Marilyn John said Gov. Mike DeWine has formed several groups to develop guidelines for reopening restaurants, hair salons and barber shops, and that she believes dates will be released later this week on when they can open back up.
sg飞艇appJohn said groups are also being formed to deal with tourism and festivals, fairs and the agriculture community, adult and youth sports clubs, and other clubs and gyms, but pointed out that no Richland County residents have been asked to serve on any group. She said she has encouraged state officials to include participants from all parts of the state and has submitted names of four county residents who are willing to serve.
sg飞艇appThe board also discussed a meeting last week in southwest Ohio between the Preble County Commissioners and their health commissioner in which the board said all businesses in the community are essential and should be allowed to open back up. As a result of comments about the meeting on social media, John said she received two requests asking if Richland County could do the same thing.
“We as county commissioners don’t have the authority to say what businesses are covered and how they’re covered by the directive from the governor and the health commissioner of the State of Ohio,” she explained. “Our local health commissioner does not report to the county commissioners. Health commissioners across the state are responsible to local boards of health, according to the Ohio Revised Code. We can put something in writing but from a legal standpoint it doesn’t change.”
sg飞艇appCommissioner Tony Vero called the situation a “Catch 22” with some local residents wanting to exercise extreme caution and others wanting things to just open up.
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“The vast majority of calls I’ve gotten from Richland County residents in the past week have been those imploring us to open up quicker rather than slower,” he said. “You can’t win right now, but all I’m saying is believe me when I say I’m strongly requesting that the governor take notice of the wishes of the people of Richland County.”
Vero said residents are asking if the Ohio Legislature is doing anything to change the law that gives the governor the authority to issue broad orders during an emergency. John said the Ohio House of Representatives is looking into the issue as well as working on its own reopening guidelines.
Commissioner Darrell Banks recommended, as a compromise, that people who can stay home stay a little longer.
“We’re going to find a happy medium. We need to get this economy going,” he said. “It has to be done very cautiously but it’s time to get going.”