COLUMBIA – Columbia City Council is looking at funding five organizations with $460,537, to provide social services to the community. The organizations plan to get the funding July 1, 2021.

Three of those organizations want to focus some or all its money, which comes from the council's fiscal year 2021 budget, on rental assistance. 

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 30% of Missourians are either homeless or use more than half of their income to pay for housing, and 176,800 people in Missouri use federal rental assistance.

Rock the Community, Central Missouri Community Action (CMCA) and Love Columbia plan to use their funds for rental assistance.

Rodney March, Rock the Community Assistant Director, plans to use a total of $115,500 to start a new program that will provide rental assistance to residents.

“I think us really helping with the rent right now will really help eliminate some barriers and get people to where they need to be," March said.

Both Rock the Community and CMCA plan to use every dollar they receive for rental assistance to help residents keep a roof over their heads.

CMCA is set to receive $46,500 and will give all that back to those behind on rent; whether it’s one month or several.

Darin Preis, CMCA Executive Director, said the money will allow the organization to serve more people locally.

“Traditionally, we operate outside of Boone County, but with new funding from the city, we’ll be able to serve families that are in Columbia," Preis said.

Rock the Community and CMCA understand the pandemic has given people a wide variety of problems and are happy to help with at least one.

March said he’s seen people who were doing well before the pandemic but are struggling now. The new rental assistance program will help more than 100 people in the community right away.

“We’re bracing for the challenge of long-term recovery and looking what it’s going to take to help move people out of poverty permanently," Preis said.

Powerhouse Community Development Corporation and First Chance for Children are also included in the funding for more social programs.

Kasey Hammock, First Chance for Children Executive Director, said she will use the money for additional education programs for children.

First Chance for Children will focus on, what it calls, “Kindergarten Readiness Kit." Hammock said it will help kids catch up on the learning and social skills that are critical at their age and that the pandemic delayed for them.

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