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More federal coronavirus funding approved for city disbursement

The city is recipient of $609,271 in federal Community Development Block Grant funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act,

Council’s finance committee Tuesday recommended for the full body of council a positive recommendation for an amendment to the 2019 annual action plan to enable the city Community and Economic Development department use of the funding.

The block grant funding will be used to prevent, prepare and respond to COVID-19 pandemic issues, said Stephanie Young, city department director.

Young said she is in the process of preparing an amendment to the most recently approved annual action plan while the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development reviews the city 2020 annual action plan.

“Most communities are amending the 2019 plan,” Young said.

The block grants must adhere to the rules and benefit persons of low-to-moderate income as they address COVID-19.

“Funding must not be a duplication of benefits,” Young said.

It is intended to be gap funding, she said.

To get this block grant funding out, the Young proposed allocating $559, 271 to go to local non- profits to benefit a low-to-moderate income population.

The department will have an open enrollment period and once the organizations are selected the city will need to enter into a sub-recipient agreement with the organizations, Young said.

Additionally, the department seeks allocation permission of $50,000 to existing micro-enterprise loan programs for COVID-19 activities, she said.

“It is a little different than the COVID-19 loan program recently approved by council,” she said.

The micro-enterprise loan program has been around since 1997.

It is to be used this time for the establishment of credit for micro-enterprises, or businesses with five or fewer employees in the city limits, she said.

To qualify, the owner and half of the employees must be within the income eligibility range.

The maximum loan is $10,000 and the loan terms are 3 percent interest over the life of the loan. The first year payment is deferred, Young said.

Councilwoman Liz Miele asked Young if other communities were using the funding within their existing government structure.

“It depends on the needs of the community,” Young said. Some may need to rehabilitate a building for its non-profit organization. But in the city the greatest needs are for shelter and food in the pandemic, Young said.

Young said she would be agreeable, if the needs change, to look at use of the loans for government purposes.

Miele said she wondered if the CARES funding could be split, such as $300,000 and a second round of $259,000 should the city have need for it.

Young said she would consider that when writing the amendment, should it be approved Thursday by council, and would notify Housing and Urban Development if that is done.

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