Cobb Commissioners Approve $23M Federal Grant For Rent Relief

COBB COUNTY, GA — Cobb County renters struggling amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic will soon receive help from the county, per a Board of Commissioners vote this week.

Cobb commissioners approved a $22.8 million federal grant program in a 4-1 vote Tuesday, with Commissioner Keli Gambrill voting in opposition. The grant was made possible by the stimulus package passed by Congress in December.

Of the $22.8 million, over $450,000 will cover oversight of the program, and just over $118,000 will be used to cover any additional expenses incurred by the Cobb Magistrate Court to help administer the grant.

The rest of the money will be divided between five nonprofits: Star-C Programs, MUST Ministries, HomeFree-USA, the Center for Family Resources and Sweetwater Mission. Each of the nonprofits will give out more than $4 million in money to landlords and utility service providers on behalf of struggling tenants.

Each nonprofit, who have all assisted with rent help in Cobb throughout the pandemic, will also receive a fee of 8 percent for every dollar administered, commissioners said.

“This chairwoman and this Board of Commissioners has allocated $22 million to keep people in their homes and to help landlords stay afloat during one of the toughest times any of us have lived through,” Cobb Magistrate Court Chief Judge Brendan Murphy said.

Gambrill said she opposed the program because of the strict nature of the federal rules for it, which Star-C Executive Director Audrea Reese also discussed during the meeting Tuesday. This new program has different eligibility requirements and award thresholds than the three programs Cobb commissioners started last year via CARES Act money.

Recipients in the new program must show a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability; have qualified for unemployment insurance or otherwise experienced financial hardship due to the pandemic; and have a household income at or below 80 percent of the local median, according to federal law.

The five nonprofits are sorting through the new requirements and crafting applications, so the program is not yet open for residents to apply. Visit the Cobb COVID-19 assistance center website for updates.