City of Oxford Allocates CARES Act Funding
As of October 20, 2020, the City of Oxford has awarded $1,225,677 in funding towards community projects and organizations as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The CARES Act is a federal relief bill for $2 trillion passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump on March 27, 2020. As outlined by this bill, funding was allocated to each state which then chooses how to allocate funds to each municipality.
Following three rounds of funding distribution from the State of Ohio, the City of Oxford received a total of $1,476,082.24 in funds which needs to be spent by December 28, 2020. The funds will be used to target those affected by COVID-19 as guided by stipulations of the CARES Act within four categories: $329,973 to public health, $209,000 to basic needs, $343,186 to education support, and $343,518 to economic sustainability.
The largest project that has been funded is to provide free WiFi at all public parks within the City and to at-risk neighborhoods for a period of three years. The project will cost $327,186. Another large allocation of the money will be directed to a grant program for local businesses. A total of $200,000 will be distributed to qualifying businesses who apply for assistance with rent and payroll.
Oxford Assistant City Manager, Jessica Greene, said that the goals of the City Council and City Administration in distributing the money were to directly support the most vulnerable.
“We aimed to help those who are at most risk in our community. For example, aiding people who have been furloughed with rent and utilities assistance, providing resources to school children who are doing online school, and keeping our elderly safe and healthy.”
A portion of these funds were granted directly to projects run by community organizations. One recipient is the Talawanda Oxford Pantry and Social Services (TOPSS), an organization that supports those in the Talawanda School District with food and education on nutrition. Funds totalling $95,000 will be distributed to TOPSS for the purchase of a refrigerated food delivery truck that will be used by both TOPSS and the Oxford Farmer’s Market. The truck will travel to surrounding neighborhoods and community centers to serve those who cannot come to the food pantry.
Ann Fuehrer, the director of TOPSS, said that the truck will allow the organization to reach a greater number of people.
“More customers, who lack transportation and thus have not been served, will have access to the emergency food provided by TOPSS and the local products sold by the Oxford Farmers’ Market through e-commerce. These are significant changes in the local supply chain that will promote local economic development and more active responses to food insecurity.”
The Family Resource Center, another recipient of a grant from the City of Oxford CARES Act funds, will be receiving $142,000 towards five different projects. The funds will help support an emergency financial assistance program for families in the Talawanda School District, transportation support to and from work and school for clients of the center, a child care and education services program, eviction reparations assistance, and finally the establishment of a cold shelter solution for this winter.
The director of the Family Resource Center, Brad Hoblitzell, said that this support will help the organization further its mission to eliminate poverty in Oxford.
“We hope to relieve families financially during these unconventional challenging times that we are in currently. We hope to continue to move families and individuals to economic sustainability.”
For the City of Oxford, the CARES Act has aided in the furthering and expansion of the goals of the City to support the most vulnerable in the community, said Greene.
“Over the summer, as we’ve experienced COVID, we as a City have realized that we need to take a long hard look at our social services and whether we can and should do more. It’s been a real wake up call.”
Greene said that the planning process for the distribution of the CARES Act funds has allowed the council and administration to think innovatively about the most difficult problems facing the City.
“The CARES Act has gotten us to think about things in creative ways that we would have never allowed ourselves to dream about before. In a way, the CARES Act has expanded our own imagination of what we can do with our City General Fund as well.”
In addition to the funding distributed by the CARES Act, the City is currently in the planning process on other projects to address the needs of the community amidst COVID-19, including establishing a permanent cold shelter for Oxford’s homeless population.
Overall, the goals of all of these projects is to offer support to those most affected by COVID-19, whether that be physically, mentally, or financially. Hoblitzell said that he hopes that those in need will connect to and engage with the services the community organizations and City offer.
“We are not meant to go through our struggles alone, we need to be in community and let our community be our strength when we are weak. Please reach out to us if you need assistance or know someone who does.”
The contact number for the Family Resource Center is 513-253-5859 and the contact for TOPSS is 513-523-3851.