LAYTON — As the effects of coronavirus ripple out, Davis County leaders are bracing themselves, trying to be as ready as they can to deal with the fallout, like many.
On Tuesday, Davis County commissioners earmarked $8,000 for use by Open Doors, a nonprofit Clearfield-based group that runs a food bank and helps the homeless, among other things. The funds, plus another $25,000 the agency got from the state, are to be used to temporarily house low-income people displaced from their homes due to coronavirus.
"This is for low-income individuals who don't have any other option, who otherwise would be homeless," said Stephen Lyon, grant administrator for Davis County.
More generally, County Commissioner Lorene Kamalu said social service agencies in Davis County are already seeing an uptick in demand for services and expecting more as the ripple effects of coronavirus, like job losses, compound. Aside from the impact on those who contract coronavirus, others have lost their jobs due to public health orders meant to curtail spread of the ailment that call for reduced movement by the public and the closure of certain businesses.
In fact, as of March 28, the four-week moving average number of jobless claims out of Davis County totaled 2,631, reflecting the spike across Utah and beyond in claims for unemployment benefits. The average in the county totaled just 86 five weeks earlier.
Lyon, meantime, said the county has received an extra $545,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant funds per the $2 trillion CARES Act to help address the fallout of the situation. Federal lawmakers approved the CARES Act in response to the economic hit caused by coronavirus, and Lyon said county officials are in the process of determining how to use the extra funds.
LIVING IN HER CAR
Davis County has no emergency homeless shelter and Open Doors will use the $33,000 in county and state money to aid homeless people with coronavirus and others displaced because a family member contracted the ailment. A local hotel will be used to temporarily house those who need it, said Daneen Adams, the Open Doors assistant executive director, and Lyon thinks the $8,000 from the county will be enough to help eight to 10 people.
Open Doors has already aided about 15 people displaced due to coronavirus. One woman with coronavirus who received help was living in her car so other family members wouldn't contract it from her, Adams said. Many families in need in Davis County share homes, and another scenario when housing assistance might be needed is if a member of one family in a two-family home gets coronavirus, booting the second family.
Advocates for the homeless in Weber County said they weren't aware of any cases of people losing their homes due to coronavirus. The caseload, though, is higher in Davis County, with 163 documented COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday compared to 71 in Weber County.
Kamalu said she met Wednesday with social service providers from across Davis County, who report heavy demand. "They are very busy and they are ramped up, doing the best to meet the demand," she said.