Hinds County Board of Supervisors President and District 3 Supervisor Credell Calhoun in a video posted on facebook announced emergency rental assistance for renters in the county at a press briefing on Tuesday, April 20. Also pictured, left to right: District 5 Supervisor Bobby McGowan, Program Manager Lauren Scott and Board of Supervisors Vice President and David Archie of District 2. Photo courtesy Hinds County.
Residents of Hinds County experienced financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic can now benefit from $7 million in federal rental aid, the Board of Supervisors announced Tuesday, April 20.
The U.S. Department of Treasury Emergency Rental Assistance Program funds the county's program called the Hinds County Emergency Rental Aid Program. The State of Mississippi also got $200 million from the $25 billion available nationally to distribute. Hinds County qualified for separate funding because its population is over 200,000.
"The HCERA is administered by Integrity Group, and landlords will also be able to apply and submit applications on behalf of their tenants, and the application must be completed and approved before you can get rental assistance," Hinds County Board of Supervisors President and District 3 Supervisor Credell Calhoun said at a press briefing Tuesday. "We hope that every family eligible participates in this program and gets their financial needs taken care of."
Lauren Scott, the HCERA program manager from the Integrity Group, said the program will prioritize anyone below 50% of the average median income in the county or who experienced more than 90 days of unemployment due to the pandemic. "These applications are on ‘first qualified, first serve.’ So, we'll be running weekly batches of payments for these applications with the weekly prioritizations first and then by bi-weekly for those applications that aren't prioritized," she said.
Integrity Group Director of Compliance and Assurance Services Eric Miller said landlords who receive the money must halt eviction actions.
"If the landlord is dragging their feet and doesn't want to access the application portal, that doesn't bar the renter from doing that; we will reach out to the landlord (on behalf of) the tenant to initiate an application," he said. "The rental assistance is good for 12 months (beginning March 30, 2020) with a three-month extension allowable for extreme cases and where there is a risk of homelessness beyond the 12 months relief. The rental assistance to any single landlord is capped at $30,000."
Applicants can text or call 601-514-0137, send an email to [email protected] or go to the website, hindsrentalaid.com for more information.
County Increases Pay for Detention Officers, More
On Monday, April 19, the Board of Supervisors approved a 2% salary increase for Hinds County detention officers. "(It is) so that we can attract and retain good and reliable detention officers to the Hinds County Sheriff's Office," spokesman Tyree Jones told the Jackson Free Press in a phone interview Wednesday.
The officers will get the salary bump from $27,500 to $28,050 when funding is available for it, Interim County Administrator Kenneth Wayne Jones said at the Monday meeting.
The Board of Supervisors also approved Jones as the county administrator effective May 1 on a $120,000 per year salary, with the additional $5,000 per year during the pandemic. Jennifer Riley-Collins resigned from the position in November 2020.
The Board also approved an advertisement for pretrial services director position. This happened in the wake of the death of an inmate in the Hinds County Detention Center in Raymond on Sunday. Justin Mosley, 21, died in his cell from an apparent hanging. He had been in detention since January 2020 and was awaiting trial after his indictment for murder in August 2020.
Board Attorney Tony Gaylor said he required approval to advertise the position during discussions at the executive session convened to partly discuss the Sunday incident.
The office of the Board attorney did not provide further information about the position. It is unclear if it is a new position or to replace someone. "We will contact you once the proposed pretrial services position has been published, and we have clarified matters with the court," Board Attorney Executive Assistant L. Nette Moore said in a statement to the Jackson Free Press.
Email story tips to city/county reporter Kayode Crown at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @kayodecrown.