OLATHE, Kan. — Johnson County will use nearly $10 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds to support community outreach programs. 

Thursday, the Johnson County Board of Commissioners (BOCC) approved three resolutions to allocate federal money to provide community support programs throughout the county.

Through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPRA), Johnson County government was awarded $117,009,332 in Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funding. 

“We have allocated, or been able to claim if you will using the lost revenue calculation, $85million. That’s 73% of the total,” Deputy County Manager Maury Thompson said.  

The county has earmarked the remaining $31 million (roughly 27%) for direct community investments.

Small business and childcare investments

The board voted 5-2 to allocate approximately $7,253,000 in Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funding (SLFRF) to provide financial support for small businesses and childcare facilities. 

The county will allocate approximately $5 million in SLFRF to provide grants for up to 225 small businesses. Small business owners can qualify for a $20,000 grant if: 

  • They employ fewer than 50 people. 
  • Can show a loss of revenue of at least 25% when comparing 2019 revenue to 2021 revenue. 
  • Can provide proof that the business was established in Johnson County before March 1, 2019. 

In an effort to increase the number of childcare providers within the county, $2million will be used to establish a Childcare Business Program with Enterprise Center of Johnson County (ECJC).

ECJC will be tasked with helping residents that want to become childcare providers learn the ins and outs of the industry and establish a business plan to open their own facility. Roughly $253,000 will also be put towards waiving licensing fees for childcare providers within Johnson County.

“For me, the single biggest barrier to stable employment right now is childcare. We as a county have a role to recruit and retain childcare providers to assist our new workforce that is coming, that we’ve been developing,” Commissioner Becky Fast said. 

The board approved using $325,000 from the Countywide Support Fund (CSF) as a one-time payment to ECJC to help administer the program and meet a local match requirement for an additional grant with the Kauffman Foundation. 

Housing and food insecurity funding 

The board unanimously approved a plan to allocate $2,085,000 in SLFRF to address housing needs and food insecurity within the county.  

Approximately $500,000 will be used to provide hotel vouchers during winter weather events in 2022 and 2023 if the Johnson County cold weather shelter reaches capacity. The Lenexa-based cold weather shelter Project 10/20 will receive $225,000. 

The county will put $60,000 towards a housing study to evaluate what it could cost to acquire and maintain a year-round low barrier shelter. Thompson said those funds would be met with a $60,000 match from the nonprofit Ncircle.

“The housing study I think makes a lot of sense. This is an issue that we’ve been dealing with for several years. Before the county commits anything we need a community perspective,” Commissioner Michael Ashcraft said. 

Johnson County will also allocate $250,000 towards the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS).

The plan will dedicate $250,000 for utility assistance. Qualified residents can apply for up to $300 in utility assistance per household. The county will also use $800,000 to fund $20,000 grants for up to 40 food pantries throughout the county. 

The BOCC approved using $50,000 from the CSF to make a one-time payment to  United Community Services to administer these programs. 

Community safety efforts

The board approved $565,000 in SLFRF to support community safety efforts.

Johnson County is a member of the Regional Homeland Security Coordinating Committee (RHSCC), a subcommittee of the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC). The committee is responsible for advising elected officials about issues related to regional homeland security. Johnson County will now allocate $35,000 for technology upgrades to support RHSCC meetings. 

The county will use $120,000 in federal funds to create the My Resource Connection mobile app. Currently the online platform helps connect people to resources like transportation, jobs and housing support within the county. The money will be used to launch a mobile app of the platform for residents to easily access on their phone. 

The Midwest Center for Mental Wellness will receive $100,000 to renovate its facility by adding a new classroom and space for additional counselors. According to county documents, the program is expected to serve roughly 250 individuals and families in the first full year of operation. 

The Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault (MOCSA) will receive $310,000 to support victims of sexual abuse and prevent sexual violence in Johnson County. 

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