However, County Commissioner Penny Rich said she was concerned about funding the project because Reentry Plus, Inc. lobbied the Board for the funding, whereas other nonprofits did not.
County Manager Bonnie Hammersley said using the Social Justice Fund for this project also raised some concerns.
“One of the things we always want to be careful about is that the Social Justice Fund doesn’t become a bidding fund, because it’s really out there for the Board to make decisions on social justice issues that they feel,” Hammersley said.
Hammersley said the COVID-19 pandemic has put pressure on decisions of funding outside agencies and how to use the Social Justice Fund. She said there have been no new funds given to agencies this year, besides healthcare providers.
Commissioner Earl McKee said this fund would help some Orange County residents get a "hand up" as they re-enter society.
“These are some folks, as I understand it, that are getting out, they need a hand up, a little help, and so I’m going to support this,” McKee said. “The social justice fund, to me, was set up to do exactly this, to help folks get a little hand up.”
Despite concerns over how to treat this project, the members of the Board, including Commissioner Mark Marcoplos, maintained that a program like the re-entry house fulfills the purpose the Social Justice Fund was established for.
“This is the type of program that the Social Justice Fund was created for, I believe,” Marcoplos said. “It fills a real need in the county, and it is all about social justice and racial equity, so I’m comfortable supporting it, funded by the Social Justice Fund.”
Commissioners Renee Price, Jamezetta Bedford, Mark Dorosin, McKee and Greene voted to pass the motion, while Rich voted against.
The Board also voted to fund the development of a Racial Equity Index Platform, which will track the progress of Orange County’s racial equity initiatives and analyze the trends of racial disparity.
The Board discussed an education fund focused on COVID-19, but the motion to set up the fund did not pass. The education fund would have helped provide access to broadband in the county's rural areas.
The Board voted to cut the Visitors Bureau Fund expenditures by $19,308 and increase the Solid Waste Enterprise fund budget.
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