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Morgantown Council funds warming shelter, accepts CDBG CARES Act money

MORGANTOWN — A theme ran through much of Tuesday’s regular meeting of Morgantown City Council as the body took up action items addressing food insecurity, rent and utility assistance and support for an emergency warming shelter.

The city received two $500,000 grant awards through the state’s Community Development Block Grant CARES Act program.

One will be used to fund a citywide food pantry program.

According to information included in the award notification, the program “will provide direct food support to approximately 150 households impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic within the city limits.”

The other $500,000 grant will go into a rent and utility assistance program.

City Manager Kim Haws explained that both meet the “HUD national objective to benefit low and moderate income persons within the community.”

The deadline for the city to spend these funds is June 30, 2022, though Assistant City Manager Emily Muzzarelli said there may soon be a waiver process that will allow recipients to extend that window.

In other news, council voted to provide up to $30,000 for an emergency warming shelter in the Hazel House of Hope on Scott Avenue.

Those funds will be broken down into $20,000 available up front and an additional $10,000 available at the city manager’s discretion as an emergency backstop.

The budget initially laid out for the shelter is $42,000.

The Monongalia County Commission committed $10,000, but said it would be willing to discuss additional funding if needed.

“If you authorize me up to $30,000, then we know it’s covered, but my intent would be to make sure whatever we spend is matched and bringing other dollars along with it,” Haws said.

Along with support from the city and county, the shelter is a collaborative effort of The Salvation Army, United Way of Monongalia and Preston Counties and Bartlett House.

It is open any time temperatures drop below 40 degrees, but has not yet needed to operate as the Bartlett House emergency shelter has not exceeded capacity.

Funds will be provided to the shelter as reimbursements for expenditures.

Also on Tuesday, council became the first body to vote in favor of participating in MMAGIC, or Monongalia Morgantown Area Geospatial Consortium.

The collaboration would allow for the GIS (geographic information system) offices of Morgantown, Monongalia County and the Morgantown Utility Board to work together to eliminate duplication of efforts and allow for cost sharing.

MUB took no action when the issue came before its board of directors last week. The topic is on today’s agenda for the Monongalia County Commission.

Lastly, sticking with GIS, the city, meaning primarily GIS Coordinator Marvin Davis, received a Special Achievement in GIS award from ESRI, the city’s GIS software provider.

Davis said the award was in recognition of the city’s use of GIS technology during the most recent ward and boundary process.

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