As other municipalities around the country struggle to distribute federal rental assistance money, Cobb has almost exhausted its own, and its model is one “to be proud of,” according to Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Lisa Cupid.
In the most recent installment of her weekly interview with county communications director Ross Cavitt, Cupid was asked about the rental assistance, the renewal of an emergency declaration she originally signed in August and a pair of controversial zoning cases that came before the board earlier in the week.
Cavitt noted that three out of five nonprofit takes with distributing Cobb’s federal rental assistance money, or ERA1, are almost through their allocation.
“That says a lot about what we’re doing here compared to what we see other jurisdictions dealing with,” he said.
On Friday, the U.S. Department of the Treasury noted that, through the end of August, only $7.7 billion of the $46.5 billion made available to local governments through ERA1 had been distributed. As of mid-September, Cobb had distributed two-thirds of its $22 million ERA1 allocation, the MDJ previously reported. Tuesday, it will consider putting another $6.5 million into the program using ERA2 money.
“I think we have a model that we’ll be able to be proud of, and certainly it’s frustrating again for people to hear that and they’re still in need of housing assistance,” Cupid said, “but the number of partners we had, not only with nonprofits but with our municipal court system, with communications in getting the word out, I think all of those things working together has helped us get funds out as quickly as possible.”
In other business, Cavitt noted votes on two large, controversial developments that came before the board were delayed until the board’s October zoning hearing.
In northeast Cobb, Pulte Home Builders has proposed building a 100-home subdivision off Ebenezer Road, while North Point Ministries would like to build a church, 95 homes and townhomes and retail at the intersection of Johnson Ferry and Shallowford roads.
“Certainly we want to disposition cases, so there can be some sense of finality, but we want to make the best decision that we can with some sense of finality,” Cupid said. “There are some things that were uncovered … this past Tuesday that gave commissioners pause in finalizing those cases.”
Last week, Cupid extended her emergency declaration originally signed Aug. 19 when cases of the coronavirus were skyrocketing in Cobb. It maintains the use of the county’s emergency operations plan, which allows resources to be funneled to local hospitals, state agencies and other organizations that may have a critical need for equipment and supplies. It also encourages vaccination and the wearing of masks in public, as well as virtual attendance at public meetings.
“We’re very fortunate to see the COVID numbers go down, but the reality is, even between the first emergency order and the second one, there was over a 200 case rate increase in the rate of transmission,” Cupid said, “and so we want to be mindful of keeping our attendees safe and giving them that (virtual) option, so that they’re not all crowding into that room” where the Board of Commissioners meets.