Three nonprofits serving the area’s most vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 crisis will receive the lion’s share of $623,474 in additional federal funds approved as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020.
The Concord City Council, by a 4-0 vote without discussion, allocated $90,000 to Monument Crisis Center (MCC) Distribution, with services to 3,000 clients; $30,000 to Meals on Wheels Diablo Region for home meal delivery to 100 seniors: and $378,780 to Shelter, Inc. Rental Assistance for rent/security deposits or arrears to about 50 households.
“Ninety thousand won’t go as far as we hope it would, but we will do everything in our powers to make the most of the money,” said Sandra Scherer, MCC’s executive director. “It would be spread across a lot of things.”
300 percent increase in demand for food
Having seen a 300 percent increase in the demand for food, MCC will direct the additional funds toward purchasing perishable foods; managing food drives; covering labor costs to manage, accept, pickup or supervise drop-offs, which requires date stamping for five days to meet COVID-19 safety protocols; resource staging; and acquiring supplies like personal protective equipment needed to run the programs as they are now set up, as well as to replace existing equipment.
Scherer said MCC represents a “one-stop shop” that is like no other for residents to turn to during the present economic environment. “We are doing a yeoman’s effort.”
The center saw 325 families in just a three-hour period on March 20, and it is continuing to serve an average 300 households during each distribution. In the first 10 weeks of the crisis, MCC distributed food to 20,000 individuals. That’s enough to make more than 450,000 meals.
Individual and community response
“What kept us ‘alive’ has been the individual and community response – people and groups running massive food drives and people donating money so that neighbors would not go hungry,” Scherer said.
She anticipated they will continue to see an increase in demand for the next 18 to 24 months. Meals on Wheel’s executive director Caitlin Sly shares that forecast, noting there was a 40 percent increase in meals over the last few months compared to the same period a year ago.
With the cafe and senior centers remaining closed, the number of meals that would have been served in those group settings and now are being delivered to clients has increased from 200 to 600.
“As society reopens, seniors will be the last group that will feel comfortable with going out to the stores,” Sly said.
The federal dollars represent additional Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding for existing Revised Citizen Participation Plan, Language Assistance Plan and Residential Anti-Displacement & Relocation Assistance.
Included in these CDBG funds is $124,694 to the city’s Housing Department that will go toward covering administration costs incurred over the next two years as staff assists these nonprofit organizations in the work they are doing with the allocated funds.