OKC creates collaboration to provide relief

Published Wednesday, July 15, 2020
by Cathy O'Connor

The city of Oklahoma City launched a Resident Support Program this week to support individuals affected by COVID-19. It’s an example of what our city does best: collaborate and work together to stretch resources and expand reach.

The Oklahoma City Council allocated $12.5 million from the $114.3 million it received under the federal CARES Act to help residents who need financial assistance due to COVID-19. The assistance will be capped at $10,000 per adult individual and can be used for rent, mortgage, utility assistance, child care reimbursement, food distribution transportation if the person can’t get to groceries or food, job training and job placement services. The program will reserve at least $6 million for applicants who earn 80% or less of the area median income, which is $41,650.

The city of Oklahoma City contracted with the Communities Foundation of Oklahoma to launch a resource center called Community CARES Partners. This resource center was formed to maximize support provided by private donors concerned about evictions and a rise in homelessness with the city’s federally funded Resident Support Program. Community CARES Partners is currently working with multiple nonprofit organizations and is coordinating with the county and state on their support programs as well.

The strength of the partnership is in its use of existing support systems and blend of private and public funds. Federal CARES funds have some restrictions and require individuals to show their needs were created due to financial impacts caused by COVID-19. For example, if an individual was behind on their rent before March 1, they wouldn’t qualify for federal CARES relief funds. However, Community CARES Partners will help identify other private or nonprofit assistance programs and resources that the individual may be eligible for and help people navigate through the process.

Community CARES Partners have a headquarters at NW 10th Street and Broadway and will be establishing pop-up service locations around Oklahoma City to provide more convenient access to individuals who are unable to apply for assistance online or travel to the downtown location. It’s an innovative and synergistic approach.

To qualify, applicants must live in Oklahoma City, have lost income or lost their job due to impacts of COVID-19 after March 1 and be 18 years or older. Residents can call 211 or visit www.okcommunitycares.org to learn more and apply.

Cathy O’Connor is president of the Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City.

Read the story on JournalRecord.com.

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