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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. – Madison County passed an Emergency Rental Assistance Resolution on Wednesday, taking a step forward to get its assistance program up and running.

The county received $5.2 million in federal funding in January to help people who are behind on rent and utilities. Now, three months later, the county commission is moving forward to get help to those who need it.

Disagreements about how to administer the money delayed the ERA program start, but commissioners passed a resolution that outlines how the county will proceed.

“We feel like if you need assistance whether you apply through Madison county or whether you apply through the city of Huntsville you have an opportunity for help,” says Commissioner Craig Hill.

People in the city limits of Huntsville can’t apply for county dollars within the first 90 days of the program.

“District 6, the bulk of it is within the Huntsville city limits so most of my constituency within the first 90 days of the program will not be served by the Madison county commission,” says Commissioner Violet Edwards.

Commissioner Violet Edwards, who secured the $5.2 million dollars for the county, calls the resolution a disappointment.

“I don’t think the county should ever start an initiative and purposely leave part of the constituency out,” says Edwards.

Commissioner Craig Hill says Huntsville has its own rental assistance program of $6 million.

“The funds were awarded based on population so we felt like we needed to offer the assistance to unincorporated and also the five municipalities,” says Hill.

The county’s program, which is still not open for applications, has been criticized for being behind but Hill says it was important to get it right.

“We wanted to make sure when the program started we wouldn’t have any concerns about how the funds were administered,” says Hill.

The county is still working through the process of hiring an administrator for the program.

“And now we will have a firm to step in. Probably approved at the next commission meeting to take over the program and then we can start off with assistance,” says Hill.

This resolution is a step forward but it doesn’t mean funds are ready for people to apply.

Hill says the commission could vote on the firm to run the program at the next commission meeting in two weeks but there isn’t a definite timeline for when the county will start the program or when the people in need will get money in hand.

The CDC’s latest order extends the residential eviction ban until at least June 30, 2021.