(Maryland DHCD) Community Services Connection Newsletter - COVID-19 Resources and Updates

COVID-19 Resources and Updates

DHCD will continue to update its COVID-19 resource page that can be found here.

State and Regional Resources

Resource for Prince George's Seniors from the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland

Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland is a nonprofit organization that trains lawyers to provide pro bono legal assistance in the state of Maryland.  The organization recently began a program for Prince George's County seniors who are interested in receiving help over the phone to complete an advance medical directive and a financial power of attorney. The free legal consultations will start May 27, 2020 through the end of June. More information can be found on their website.

National and Federal Resources

CAPLAW Guidance on Reopening for Community Action Agencies

To assist organizations as they begin to reopen their doors to resume operations and services, CAPLAW has developed this Building Readiness: Reopening Our Doors Frequently Asked Questions resource. The FAQ provides answers to  questions on the forefront of CAAs' planning efforts. These questions provide guidance in the following areas: planning, prevention, response, liability issues, and resources for additional guidance.

Catalogue of Online Resources from the NCAP

The National Community Action Partnership has created online resources and virtual training at no cost for the Community Action Network. They offer webinars, toolkits, and resource guides that can be accessed on demand. More information on these resources can be found here. Follow this link to sign-up for online training. 

Waivers for Community Planning and Development Grant Programs 

On May 22, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released a memorandum regarding information on the availability of waivers of certain regulatory requirements and one NOFA requirement associated with Community Planning and Development grant programs. The memorandum covers program specific waivers for Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS, Continuum of Care, Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program, and the Emergency Solutions Grants Program. Read more here

Community Partner Spotlight

Montgomery County TESS Team

The bilingual team (Spanish and Amharic speaking) at the Takoma East Silver Spring (TESS) Community Action Center continues to play a vital role in delivering critical services during the pandemic. After the COVID-19 shut-down order, the team quickly mobilized to serve the community virtually, losing only one day of service in the transition. MCAP 2G Pilot funding from Maryland's Department of Human Services, originally intended to initiate coaching, was redirected to add staffing hours at TESS. Working remotely, TESS staff enroll people in SNAP, Medicaid, emergency housing assistance,address legal needs, and connect people to food and nutrition programs. Staff also are supporting families who have been quarantining, are hospitalized, or who have passed away due to the pandemic.

Food assistance providers, many of whom are Community Action partners with contracts administered through the agency, in the last week alone, distributed 234,265 pounds of food and 8,397 prepared meals to over 15,500 community members, with staff, partners and volunteers providing language assistance in Amharic, French/French-Creole, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

TESS and other agency staff remain at the forefront of the County's Department of Health and Human Services' response and recovery planning, working on food and shelter teams, the COVID public health phone line, expediting info and referral resources to partners, and distributing the County's Emergency Assistance Response funding. Staff are engaged in designing a new model to support wraparound services for impacted residents.  The agency's VITA program is restarting with a virtual model to remotely provide free tax assistance to residents who had appointments cancelled. The Community Action Board and Head Start Parents Policy continue to meet virtually, maintaining quorum to support decision making and advocacy.  

A virtual Community Action Month celebration was held to recognize volunteers, partners and the Community Action Institute graduates:  www.montgomerycountymd.gov/communityaction

Please email CSConnection.dhcd@maryland.gov  if you would like us to include news, events or job openings related to your organization in our upcoming newsletter.