|Since the CARES expenditure plan was last presented to the Board on October 6, progress has continued to be made on the various projects within the plan, and a number of substantive changes have been made. This report provides an update on the status of the expenditure plan, and outlines a number of recommended strategies for closing out the plan by the December 30 required deadline.
The following provides a brief update on a few of the notable CARES projects:
New Projects Added
- Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) – The TBRA program was formally launched on October 16, and a CARES subrecipient agreement with Yolo County Housing was approved by the Board on October 20. As of November 5, a total of 261 applications have been received. The County has already distributed funding to Yolo County Housing so they may quickly disburse funds to recipients once the application evaluation process concludes.
- Homeless Funding – On October 20 the Board approved subrecipient agreements with Davis, West Sacramento and Woodland to provide $500,000 each to support projects and activities that provide permanent supportive housing or increase capacity for homeless sheltering and supportive services. The cities are working to obtain approval from their respective city councils, and all agreements are expected to be finalized shortly.
- Small Business Grant Program – In total, the County received 220 applications from local businesses requesting approximately $1.1 million in grant funding. However, a number of applicants were not able to provide required documentation or requested funding in excess of what they were eligible for. As a result, just $616,147 in grant funding was awarded. The Department of Financial Services issued checks to awarded applicants on October 30, 2020.
In recognition of ongoing community needs resulting from COVID-19, the following items have been added to the CARES expenditure plan:
These additions to the CARES expenditure plan are being funded by lower projected expenditures for the County’s ongoing COVID-19 emergency response, particularly related to COVID-19 testing costs, which are trending lower due to a decline in public demand for testing.
- Business Support – $700,000 has been added to the CARES plan to address additional business support needs, with an emphasis on projects and activities that allow businesses to adapt to outdoor operations. As discussed above, funding requests made as part of the Small Business Grant program exceed the amounts awarded by approximately $500,000. To address this unmet need, $500,000 in additional support will be allocated to the Cities of Davis, West Sacramento and Woodland. An additional $200,000 in being provided to the City of Winters, in recognition that they did not receive any funding to support homeless activities due to their local needs differing from other cities. Following initial discussions with each city, West Sacramento requested that they be allowed to use any additional funding allotment to further support motel purchases as part of Project Homekey. As such, staff recommend that the Board authorize the County Administrator to modify the Subrecipient Agreement with West Sacramento approved on October 21 to increase the funding amount for homeless activities. Staff further recommend that the Board authorize the County Administrator to execute new agreements with the cities of Davis and Woodland for business support programs in order to provide each city the flexibility in determining the best means of supporting businesses within their community, and their ability to expend funds quickly and effectively on these needs before December 30. Due to the dollar amount, the Subrecipient Agreement with the City of Winters has already been finalized, but is included as Attachment B for reference.
- Dine at Home Yolo – $108,000 has been added to the CARES plan to address additional food security needs. Under the Dine at Home Yolo program, the County entered into a Subrecipient Agreement with the Agency on Aging Area 4 (AAA4) to provide daily meals for up to 70 eligible senior Yolo County residents for up to 10 weeks. AAA4 will be partnering with local restaurants to prepare and deliver the daily meals. This program addresses a gap in food security needs resulting from an extensive wait list for Meals on Wheels.
- Health & Humans Services Agency Requests – $84,000 has been added to the CARES plan to address a number of requests from HHSA, including $36,000 for Winter food distribution access improvements that was discussed as part of the CARES update on October 6. An additional $14,000 is being allocated to provide walk-up access at the Davis and Winters service centers. Walk-up access is already available at the West Sacramento and Woodland service centers. $24,000 is being added to provide a grant match for the Bringing Families Home program, which provides housing stability for children in Child Welfare Services who are nearing reunification, while $10,000 was added to purchase gloves, hand sanitizer and other personal protective equipment for IHSS providers.
Strategies for Closeout
With less than two months remaining before the December 30 deadline, staff are beginning to focus on strategies to close out the CARES expenditure plan. While many projects continue to be underway, the strategies outlined below are being recommended to not only ensure that CARES Act funds are fully spent, but also to enhance the capacity to address ongoing COVID-19 impacts and emergency response needs past December 30.
1. Public Assistance – Since its inception, the CARES expenditures plan has included funding to support increased public assistance costs related to COVID-19. However, staff have determined that CARES Act funds cannot be used to cover the local share of federal grants. To address this challenge, staff recommend using the amount previously allotted for Public Assistance (approximately $2.5 million) to reimburse Jail-Medical costs, which are entirely General Fund supported. In turn, the General Fund savings can then be redirected to support these increased Public Assistance costs related to COVID-19.
2. Project Roomkey – As of November 9, 192 individuals experiencing homelessness are being sheltered in local motels as part of Project Roomkey. While a number of supportive housing units are anticipated to come online in the next few months, it is anticipated that the need for non-congregate sheltering will continue beyond December 30. The County’s Homeless Coordinators have expressed interest in continuing Project Roomkey through at least March 2021. To provide funding capacity for the ongoing operation of this program, staff recommends using approximately $770,000 in CARES funds to reimburse prior Project Roomkey costs that were funded by grants. In turn, these grant funds can be used to continue the program past December 30. It should be noted that even with this strategy, continuing this program through March 2021 may still result in a residual funding gap of $400,000 - $500,000. Once the funding gap is known and options are determined, this is expected to come back to the Board for consideration.
3. Emergency Response – The County’s COVID-19 emergency response will continue to operate beyond December 30. It is currently estimated that the ongoing emergency response will cost approximately $960,000 from January – June 2021. While some contingency funds have been set aside for this purpose, the ongoing emergency response costs are uncertain and based on a number of assumptions, including that the first round of COVID-19 vaccines will be funded by the state and federal government. To ensure that the County continues to have the capacity to maintain a robust and thorough emergency response, staff recommends that any residual savings in the CARES plan be used to reimburse General Fund expenses for Public Health and Public Safety, as allowed by CARES Act regulations. In turn, the General Fund savings will be redirected to support COVID-19 emergency response costs past December 30.