CLINTON — On Monday, the Clinton County Board of Supervisors authorized Emergency Management Coordinator Chance Kness to file for pre-approval of the non-congregate sheltering program offered through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The Supervisors unanimously approved the authorization. YWCA representatives requested funding assistance from the county due to an increase in displaced individuals. The only place for displaced individuals to go for emergency shelter is hotels, the YWCA said.
Last week, Kness noted a potential for 100% reimbursable funding for a FEMA program related to non-congregate sheltering. There are still several steps the county needs to take before obtaining approval for the funding, Kness said.
An official request would need to be submitted to FEMA, Kness said. Pre-approval is required for the program.
A request needs to be submitted at least every month and at times every two weeks, Kness said. The Board of Health would have to issue a public health order requiring non-congregate sheltering over the same time frame.
“Once those things are done and approved, then it seems that as they’ve been saying, we need some entity to apply to public assistance, FEMA public assistance, on behalf of these organizations and be that pass through for funding,” Kness said. “That also involves fronting that funding until FEMA can reimburse.”
Other counties in the region have utilized the program and had success with the program, Kness said. He has reasonable confidence that the request will be the same other counties requested and for which they were reimbursed.
Kness noted that FEMA requires pre-approval but at times has done pre-approval for things that have already occurred. The county will try to get pre-approval for funding for costs already borne by the organizations over the last few months, although it is less certain whether FEMA will approve the request, Kness said.
The funding would be utilized to protect the vulnerable population from COVID-19, Kness said. This would not apply to someone who has COVID-19 or has a pending test, but to unrelated people living in a congregate setting or shelter that is an added danger, he said.
“Thats what we’re applying to do is keep them separated during this time,” Kness said. “Whereas, normally we might set up some sort of congregate situation.”
The cost of quarterly reimbursements are projected to be about $26,400, Vice-Chairman Jim Irwin Jr. said.
The auditor’s office can help facilitate the county serving, as a pass through source for the funding request, County Auditor Eric Van Lancker said. The county and other involved entities would need to figure out who is covering the cost of the funds if they are not 100% reimbursed.
“Those are just some questions I have that I think we’d want answered before we get into this,” Van Lancker said. “I’m sure something else will pop up that we don’t think of. That immediately to me is cause I know as soon as we get something that’s not reimbursable, I’ll be coming to you guys saying what do you want to do with this?”
Supervisor Dan Srp would like to support the program and initiate the process with the funds currently available in the county’s miscellaneous account, he said. Based on the uncertainty of the timeline, Srp supported the county budgeting for it for six months for the remainder of the fiscal year.
“To me that makes sense,” Srp said. “Not knowing what the reimbursement timeline is if we’re going to make the commitment to it. To me, that’s the commitment we have to make. Otherwise, we start the process and get it down the road and then it’s going to run out of resources and stall out again.”
Kness confirmed there is no financial obligation as part of the pre-approval. Van Lancker suggested proceeding with the pre-approval and if the county deems it will not work financially, it’s not a big deal.