Township Council Goes To ‘Plan B’ For CDBG Grant Money, Will Help Renters

Getting almost non-existent response from East Franklin businesses to a COVID-19 relief grant program, the Township Council has decided to instead use the money to help township renters.

Mayor Phil Kramer said at the November 24 virtual Township Council meeting that given that only one business owner applied for the special Coronavirus Aid Relief & Economic Security (CARES) Act grant, the Council’s Financial Oversight Committee has recommended using the money set aside for that and other COVID-related money to help township renters who have fallen behind on their rents as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The recommendation is to use $55,000 from the business assistance fund and $30,000 from the $50,000 that the township had set aside for COVID-19 testing costs, and make that available to the affected renters.

The $30,000 comes from the $50,000 set aside for any incidental costs the township might incur through its aggressive testing program, but no money has been spent, Mayor Phil Kramer said at the November 24 meeting.

“All of our COVID testing has been at virtually no cost to the town, sometimes we might station a police officer at the site, there may have been some incidental costs, but … the town has not paid any test costs or personnel costs of the people doing the tests,” Kramer said.

There will be restrictions on which renters get the money; for example, only renters who fell behind on their rents after the pandemic hit will be eligible, and there will be income restrictions based on family size.

Rules for the grant program will be posted on the township’s web site, Kramer said.

The Council in June decided to use $85,933 to help small township businesses in the East Franklin section of town, the $50,000 for coronavirus testing and $25,000 for the Franklin Food Bank, money which was made available through the federal Community Development Block Grant program’s Coronavirus Aid Relief & Economic Security (CARES) Act program.

At the June meeting, the decision was made to allocate the money to help certain small businesses rather than for renters’ relief because it was believed that by helping businesses stay afloat, the township would be indirectly helping renters who were employed by those businesses.

“It was an either/or proposition because of the limited amount of funds we received, and the desire to make the best impact with the funds we had,” Deborah Mitchell, the township’s CDBG coordinator, said at that meeting.

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