Clackamas County Administrator Gary Schmidt informed the board of commissioners Tuesday that he signed on to two agreements on behalf of the county under its COVID-19 emergency declaration to access state and federal funding to help expenses related to coronavirus response.
The first of the two agreements is an application to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for homeless prevention services vouchers. The county is seeking $2.5 million to help its Health, Housing and Human Services Division in supporting local people experiencing homelessness as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The other is a request to the state of Oregon for Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds totaling $1.6 million. This is the second request the county has submitted for a reimbursement from the state for COVID-related expenses. The county so far has incurred about $5.6 million in added expenses, but expects a $45 million hit due to added expenses throughout the entirety of the pandemic.
Commissioners have expressed their displeasure over the fact that Clackamas County and all local governments with populations of less than 500,000 have not yet received any help from the CARES Act funding passed by Congress in March. County Chair Jim Bernard recently issued an open letter urging local residents to use their voices to call on Gov. Kate Brown and state leaders to release dollars federally allocated to local counties so they can continue to respond to the pandemic without dipping too far into their own general funds, much of which is already earmarked.
"Counties like Clackamas are left asking the governor's office for dedicated funding and are often ignored," Bernard wrote. "Oregonians deserve better. You deserve better."
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