Public meetings and convening sessions help guide county allocation of federal funds

The challenges Hamilton County faces are not unique. Small businesses at risk of closing. Renters struggling to make ends meet. Nonprofits stretching their budgets and staff to the limit. Hamilton County Commissioners have been working tenaciously to support families, businesses, and nonprofit organizations that call Hamilton County home.

Hamilton County received $300 million from the CARES Act and ARPA funding. Currently, the County is asking the state of Ohio for an additional $40 million in emergency rental funds to keep renters in their homes and has partnered with the city to avoid duplication and enhance outreach. The region’s recovery from the pandemic rests on multiple factors, but this aid played a large part.

Commissioner Denise Driehaus shared that “listening to the community and hearing needs directly from them” guided the Commissioners where and how to allocate funds. By holding public meetings and convening sessions with community members, everyday experts, and professional experts such as childcare providers and nurses, they found direct areas to impact.

This money went towards immediate, long-term, and transformational needs. Immediate needs included rent, mortgage, and utility relief, small business support for businesses with 5 employees or less, and nonprofit relief.

The bulk of long-term needs is in the area of housing, especially options for seniors and people with disabilities. Transformational needs include mental health first responders, suicide prevention, workforce development, and public health infrastructure.

Hamilton County Commissioners traveled to Washington in September.By traveling to Washington D.C. earlier this month, the trio of county commissioners had the opportunity to continue partnering with officials at the local, city, and state levels while sharing what Hamilton County has been able to do with millions from the federal government.

Commission President Stephanie Summerow Dumas described the continuing partnerships as a “catalytic investment in local communities by the federal government as a game changer. We've been able to bring resources directly to communities in need with the 513Relief Bus; we've distributed $14 million to 1,400 local small businesses; we've provided free Wi-Fi; built a robust COVID-19 testing program and helped stabilize nonprofits to mention a few.”
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Read more articles by Miyah Byrd.

Miyah Byrd is a storyteller and advocate based in Ohio. Her work has been featured in KIIONA Magazine, Forge, Human Parts, and ThriveGlobal. She is a former educator whose interests include food insecurity, green energy, and the self-sufficiency of the black community.