Brevard County received $105 million through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. On May 6, the Brevard County Commission voted 3-2 to set aside $4.4 million of that fund specifically for residents struggling to meet their basic needs. Voting against the measure was County Commissioner Chair Bryan Lober and District 3 Commissioner John Tobia. Commissioners Isnardi, Smith, and Pritchet voted in favor of the funding.
At the next meeting on May 19, the board will vote on how to administer the funds. A plan will be presented by Ian Golden, the county’s health and human services director who will oversee the process and states there will be an online application for those seeking aid.
Federal guidelines stipulate that grants to individuals must be tied to impacts from the coronavirus. For this reason, D5 Commissioner Kristine Isnardi says that applicants will be thoroughly vetted “to ensure that those individuals affected will not receive funding if they are receiving government assistance from other means, whether it be unemployment benefits or otherwise.”
When debating the measure, Commissioner Isnardi argued that although there have been federal and state programs and funding made available to individuals, most had not actually received the money, and they need that money now.
These relief funds will only go to those who truly need it, Isnardi said, “which was the intent of the majority of the board” and will be directed toward “those affected by the virus, whether it be through job loss or illness.”
“We have far too many people still waiting for unemployment benefits, people who applied weeks ago,” she said. ‘While there was eviction relief that came through the state, those rent payments will still be owed and these people still need to feed their families.”
Residents however won’t be receiving a check. Those approved for funding will have their needs paid directly from the county to the organization. Payments will be made to the landlords, mortgages, or utility companies for example.
Golden said “This way, we make sure it goes to where it was intended.”
This situation should not be a political issue, Isnardi said.
“This is a no-brainer. The federal government provided funding for COVID-19 related expenses, and those adversely affected should be able to seek some relief,” she said.
“The state nearly shut down, so this tremendous job loss was through no fault of their own.”
Since the shutdown of the state, many local organizations have sprung into action to assist those in need. Brevard Democratic Chair Stacey Patel organized a Facebook Group to assist individuals in need of housing, food, and necessities. The group has nearly 10k members.