In the event of another surge in COVID-19 cases, Carroll County wants to be prepared to stop the spread of the disease among homeless individuals.
Staff in the county’s Department of Citizen Services requested permission to apply for a $45,000 state grant that would help pay to quarantine homeless individuals who contract COVID-19 in individual hotel rooms. The money would also be used to purchase supplies for the homeless.
The Board of Carroll County Commissioners unanimously gave its approval Thursday.
“This is an innovative funding stream that has come up,” said Celene Steckel, citizens services director.
Steckel explained that the Maryland Department of Health recently partnered with the Department of Housing and Community Development to coordinate administration of additional Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funding for COVID-19 mitigation among people experiencing homelessness.
Part of the money comes from the Emergency Solutions Grants Program funded by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act of 2020.
Steckel said the county plans to use $4,500 for program administrative costs, with the remaining $40,500 “for the mitigation and response.”
In February, the Carroll County Circle of Caring Homelessness Board conducted its annual point-in-time survey, in an effort to count the number of homeless people in Carroll County.
Held every year in communities across the United States, the point-in-time count is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in order for communities to receive federal funds for programs to assist the homeless.
The census helps counties determine the extent of homelessness in the community, conduct outreach to people experiencing homelessness, and obtain grant funding to support homeless assistance and prevention programs.
Steckel said Monday, that the February count showed 62 people living in homeless shelters in Carroll County, and another 11 living on the streets.
The count is just a snapshot of one day, Steckel noted, and does not show the full picture of homelessness in the county.
HUD also requires jurisdictions to implement a Homeless Management Information System, to collect data on housing and services provided to individuals who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
That means looking at all the shelters, services, programs, and organizations in Carroll County that provide help.
Steckel said that in fiscal 2022, 602 people received some form of help from the county related to homelessness.
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“The majority are not homeless now,” she said Monday.