Jefferson County Commission

Not Us: JeffCo Commissioners Not Responsible for JCCEO

Jefferson County Commission President Jimmie Stephens. Nov. 30, 2021 (Photo by Solomon Crenshaw Jr.)

UPDATED Before their committee meeting Tuesday morning, some members of the Jefferson County Commission talked about media reports that said the commission was taking action regarding the nonprofit Jefferson County Committee for Economic Opportunity.

Commission President Jimmie Stephens made it clear that is not the case.

“The commission has no purview over any nonprofit organizations in the county, much less the JCCEO,” Stephens said following the meeting. “I haven’t had any conversations with any of the board members or the director. I would have no knowledge about that, and the county would not have any say-so over reducing that board or any control over that board.”

The future of the JCCEO is uncertain after the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs pulled the last grant money to the organization — $7 million to support services to low-income families in Jefferson County, including utility and rental assistance programs as well as home weatherization projects.

But the board of directors decided Wednesday to keep the operation open and try to revive it, WBRC reported. The chairman of the board, Gary Richardson, has said Tuesday, “That’s it, it’s done. … We don’t have any other funding source of any kind. The organization is technically gone.”

JCCEO was one of the entities to receive federal Cares Act funds that benefited county residents dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. JCCEO and Birmingham Urban League were each assigned money to assist residents with utility bills and mortgages.

“It is troubling that any of our organizations who are designed to improve the quality of life of our citizens, when they fall short and fail,” Stephens said. “It’s always troubling. But in this particular case, it’s very troubling that these people are suffering from the lack of the administration of the funds.”

Commissioner Sheila Tyson said, “This is a tragic turn of events for the employees and the citizens that use their services. From home weatherization to bill payment assistance to child care, these are just a few of their services that JCCEO clients will have to look to other resources to assist them.