This week, newly opened federal funding opportunities have allowed the City of Ashland and partner organization Options for Helping Residents of Ashland (OHRA)
to increase use of hotel rooms to house previously unhoused people. Local hotels including the Ashland Hills Inn and Suites, an anonymous hotel, and the Carlisle Garden Suites are currently providing rooms to OHRA guests.
This newly available federal funding includes reimbursements eligible from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and through Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds that had been previously capped for this particular use.
“The City of Ashland, OHRA and other community partners have been working for several years on shelters and services, and that’s only increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re thankful for expanded federal funding because the City budget is limited and virus-related revenue losses are mounting,” said Interim City Administrator Adam Hanks.
As soon as the OHRA Winter Shelter was forced to close for coronavirus health precautions, the City of Ashland, OHRA, ACCESS, and the United Way stepped up to house the most susceptible of the shelter’s guests through the month of April. The shelter was set to close at the end of March on its normal schedule. The City spent its then allowed and limited allocation of CDBG funds for limited number of rooms from March into April.
Since that time, the City, OHRA and many dedicated community members have been searching for additional hotel room funding and available rooms. Through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, both FEMA and CDBG funds are now available for hotel room rental. While previously capped City of Ashland CDBG awarded funds were used in March when the shelter closed, the CARES Act enabled the City’s ability to increase available funding to an anticipated $81,000 for hotel rooms in April by removing the cap on spending.
The expanded opportunity is resulting in an additional 30 hotel rooms available as of today, for a total of 41 rooms. Today, OHRA reported 31 rooms occupied, a number already increasing daily.