ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (WJZ) — Howard County Executive Calvin Ball is proposing allocating around $1 million toward food and rental assistance for families in need amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In his proposed fiscal year 2021 operating budget, Ball allocated an initial $500,000 toward disaster relief and recovery efforts. Of that money, $200,000 would go to the Community Action Council for food assistance while the other $300,000 would go toward rental assistance and eviction relief for low-income and moderate-income residents.

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“This relief funding will provide much-needed support to our local food bank, which has served more than 12,000 individuals since mid-March when this crisis began in full,” Ball told reporters Friday morning.

Bita Dayhoff, the CAC’s president, called the announcement “significant and impactful.”

“This funding provides a tremendous level of support to our bank, which has been at the epicenter of meeting the most basic needs of families who’ve been affected by this pandemic,” she said.

As the impacts of the pandemic began to become clear, Dayhoff said CAC purchased 40,000 pounds of food due to an anticipated increase in demand. While not all of the money was budgeted, she said the organization needed to be prepared.

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Ball also said he’s allocating a total of $800,000 to rental assistance and eviction relief programs for families struggling to keep a roof over their heads. Roughly $300,000 will come from the disaster relief program with the other $500,000 coming from Moderate Income Housing Unit fees.

Howard County will get $770,356 for housing programs as part of the federal CARES Act, commonly known as the coronavirus stimulus package.

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Due to the amount of need, Ball said the federal funds alone wouldn’t be enough to help county residents.

There will be income limits for those applying for the funds, which will pay for up to three months of a person’s rent, county housing department director Kelly Cimino said.

People can apply for the program through May 22. Cimino said she hopes her office can get the money out to residents during the month of June.

To learn more about how to apply for the housing funds, click here.

Ball said he hopes the county council will support the proposals but did not indicate whether he felt they had strong support from council members.

The council is also considering legislation that would freeze rent increases, but Ball said he’s heard concerns from landlords about the idea.

“I think we’ll need to see what that legislation looks like if it gets passed,” he said, adding he’s not sure how it will play out at the council level.

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