Diakonia, which will celebrate its 50th birthday next year, is one of the primary sources of rental assistance for residents of Worcester County. The latest influx of money that will be coming in will be split evenly between Diakonia and the Worcester County Department of Social Services, totaling $6.5 million.

(April 30, 2021) A couple of weeks after Diakonia secured $3.25 million of a $6.5 million grant, split with the Worcester County Department of Social Services, the Worcester County Commissioners granted the 49-year-old shelter funds to continue its renovations.

The Community Development Block Grant will provide nearly $114,000 for the purchase and installation of new flooring and lockers at Diakonia’s emergency housing shelter on Old Bridge Road in West Ocean City.

“We thank the community for the support because, without the support and matching funds, we would not be able to get the grants that help us with all our programs,” said Diakonia Executive Director Bea Miller. “That community of support goes a long way.”

The lockers will replace dressers that Miller said have worn down over time and the flooring required renovating due to the physical demand that high volumes of families place on the non-profit’s infrastructure.

“We’ve needed to replace things with materials that will be more weather-resistant and traffic-resistant,” Miller said.

These latest renovations come more than two years after Diakonia set out to upgrade their facilities, a byproduct of the covid-19 pandemic.

“Covid delayed some of our renovations, with everybody being affected and things needing to be adjusted,” Miller said. “We’re just kicking it into gear now. Most grants, a lot of people don’t know we have a time limit, so we’re just trying to complete everything in the time we’ve been given.”

“We try to make wise choices to keep us running for a long period of time. We’ll be here 50 years next year and I’d like to make sure we’re here for another 50.”

On the emergency rental assistance side, Miller said that Diakonia is still waiting for the grant to be finalized, though the funds have been approved. Right now, the shelter has around $200,000 at its disposal to help people in need of rental assistance. Once able to be used, money from the most recent rental assistance grant will be available through 2022.

The grant will help Worcester County residents with up to $1,000 per month, and Miller said some people may be surprised to learn they’re eligible for it.

“A lot of people think, ‘Rental assistance is not for me,’ “ Miller said. “They need to know that this additional money for people affected by covid is available for people that are under 80 percent of the median (household) income.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income in Worcester County in 2019 was $63,499.

“Any household member impacted by covid may be eligible for assistance,” Miller said.

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