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Coronavirus Updates: Howard County Receives Federal Grants for Housing, Special Election Voting Guidance, SNAP Benefits

Coronavirus Updates: Howard County Receives Federal Grants for Housing, Special Election Voting Guidance, SNAP Benefits

April 17, 2020

Media Contact:
Scott Peterson, Director of Communications, Office of Public Information, 202-277-9412


ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County received $770k in federal Community Development Block Grant funds to be used in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The County is planning to grant these funds to housing providers (such as the Housing Commission, Bridges to Housing Stability, Heritage Housing Partners and Community Action Council) to provide rent assistance to tenants that could be facing eviction for non-payment of rent due to COVID-19. 

“These funds are critical in supporting our residents who have experienced a loss of income and are unable to pay rent,” said County Executive Calvin Ball. “We’re incredibly grateful to our Congressional Delegation who were instrumental in ensuring critical relief to those hit the hardest by COVID-19 mitigation measures.”

Additional CDBG funds will be awarded to some of these same non-profits after July 1st to continue to provide rental assistance and eviction prevention. The County is also allocating additional funding of $37,000. to Making Change, Inc., a nonprofit credit counseling agency in the County, to help residents with budgeting strategies and assistance contacting creditors as they recover from income loss or medical illness.


Lost Ark Distilling Visit
Today, County Executive Calvin Ball visited Lost Ark Distilling in Columbia to thank them for their work in making hand sanitizer. Howard County Government is utilizing local businesses and vendors to meet our urgent, emergency needs during the coronavirus response. Lost Ark Distilling was among the first companies to switch from distilling spirits to making the much-needed hand sanitizer.

Howard County Government is purchasing a total of 500 gallons of the hand sanitizer from Lost Ark. Including today's pickup, the County has obtained 250 gallons so far. Lost Ark is processing a second order of 250 gallons and hopes to have that ready for Howard County Government by the week of April 27th. 


Department of Recreation & Parks has extended their closures of the following through May 15th:
-    All program, classes, and events
-    Spring Break camps
-    Leagues
-    Rentals
-    Recreation & Parks indoor facilities (This includes HCRP headquarters, Roger Carter Community Center, Gary J. Arthur Community Center, North Laurel Community Center, Robinson Nature Center, Baltimore & Ohio Ellicott City Station Museum, Firehouse Museum, Meadowbrook Athletic Complex, Kiwanis-Wallas Hall, Belmont Manor & Historic Park and more.)

All weddings on Recreation & Parks facilities are cancelled until June 1, 2020.


Howard County Public School System closures were extended through May 15th today by Maryland State Superintendent Karen Salmon. HCPSS communications to families can be read here


Special Election Voting Guidance
There will be a special general election in Maryland’s 7th Congressional District to fill the remainder of Congressman Elijah Cummings’ term of office, held on April 28th. The State Board of elections is providing three ways to vote in the special election, including vote by mail, which is strongly recommended. For additional information please visit their website here. 
Vote by Mail
To slow the spread of COVID-19, all voters in the 7th Congressional District are strongly encouraged to vote by mail. The process is secure and the most effective way to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
To ensure everyone has an opportunity to vote, all voters in the 7th Congressional District will receive a mail-in ballot and can return it by mail. To vote by mail:
•    Ballots were mailed on April 8, 2020.
•    Vote your ballot, fill in the oval to the left of your candidate choice.
•    Sign and date the oath on the envelope using black ink.
•    Return your voted ballot by mail or deliver it to a secure drop box location.
•    No stamp is required.
•    Make sure your ballot is postmarked on or before April 28, 2020 or delivered to a drop box location by 8 pm on Tuesday, April 28th. Drop box locations will be finalized by Monday, April 20th.
If you did not receive a ballot, please contact your local board of elections.
In-Person Voting
To ensure that all voters have an opportunity to vote, there will be three in-person voting locations on April 28, 2020 for voters to cast their ballots. These locations will be open from 7 am to 8 pm.
For Howard County voters who live in the 7th Congressional District, the polling location is at the Howard County Fairgrounds, 2210 Fairgrounds Road, West Friendship 21794. 


SNAP Benefits

The Howard County Department of Social Services has seen a surge in applications for key public benefits including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or food stamps, Temporary Cash Assistance and Medicaid. 

The ongoing economic impact from the COVID19 shutdown has resulted in more than double the number of applications for a typical 30-day period for the Department. These critical safety net programs are important in making sure individuals and families have access to food, health care, and other basic needs.

To further support vulnerable Marylanders during COVID-19, eligible SNAP households are receiving additional benefits in April and May. To find out if you meet the financial eligibility requirements for SNAP benefits please click here. To apply for SNAP, visit