Summit County Council allocates $2 million in federal funding for community investment

SUMMIT COUNTY, Ohio — Summit County Council this week approved the use of $2 million in federal funds to address four key issues affecting low-income residents: providing laptops and internet access, establishing a bank diapers, fund home improvements, and help secure and maintain jobs through cuts in public assistance benefits.

The Council will work with community partners to deliver benefits to residents.

The Progressive Alliance Community Development Corporation, based in West Akron, will manage the distribution and technical support of the laptops and access points. The hope of helping families secure internet access will make it easier for them to search and apply for jobs, participate in virtual education, and connect with healthcare providers.

“The pandemic has accentuated the already growing digital divide in Summit County and across the country. As workers and students returned home from their offices and classrooms, we saw the inequality of digital access and the inconvenience it created,” County Executive Ilene Shapiro said in A press release. “Providing laptops and hotspots to families in need will help them overcome these disadvantages and create meaningful opportunities for children and parents.”

The Summit County Department of Employment and Family Services provides a grant to the Urban League of Akron to assist with employment readiness and job placement and “benefits” support services. The benefit cliff refers to the reduction of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits due to minor increases in income.

This loss of benefits can dampen a salary increase and deter residents from seeking work or advancing in their careers. The Urban League of Akron offers a program that helps residents receive support for the transition to employment. The program includes pre-employment training, career assessment, job training/certification, financial literacy/budgeting, support services for barriers to employment (referral services, transportation, childcare children, uniforms/tools/work supplies), employer engagement, job placement, job coaching/mentoring and up to 18 months of job retention monitoring.

The Department of Employment and Family Services is partnering with Summit County Public Health and First Term Anniversary to create a diaper bank for TANF-eligible families. Partner organizations, with $75,000 in TANF funds, will coordinate the distribution of diapers, wipes and pull-ups for families in Summit County. The organizations will also distribute diapers, child safety items, parenting essentials and information at community resource fairs around the county.

The Department of Community and Economic Development will receive $1.4 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Department of Health and Human Services for the Home Weatherization Assistance Program. The county hopes to fund at least 131 home improvements for county residents, including new furnaces, hot water tanks and insulation.

Want more information about Akron? Sign up for the Rubber City update from cleveland.coma newsletter sent by e-mail at 5:30 a.m. on Wednesdays.

Jill E. Washington