City of Homer residents can now apply for financial relief grants to help them and their families through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The Household Economic Relief Grant program is designed to give CARES Act funds directly to citizens who live inside city limits. It went live on Monday and comes on the heels of the city’s other four financial relief programs designed to help struggling sectors of Homer’s economy during the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.
First, the city approved and launched a relief program for small businesses. At its meeting Monday night, the Homer City Council also approved a second round of grants for this program, to provide more relief to local businesses.
In the next wave of grant giving, the city rolled out relief programs designed to help nonprofit organizations, child care businesses or services, and social service organizations.
The city council allocated $1.5 million for the Household Economic Relief Grant program, which will be given out in grants of up to $1,500. The program is need based, meaning households must disclose and prove the economic hardship they’ve encountered during the pandemic.
Sara Perman is the coordinator for the program, as well as for the child care, social services and nonprofit programs. She said the the application for the household relief program will have areas for applicants to write a description of the economic hardships they’re experiencing. All applicants for the program must certify that the needs they’ve laid out in the application are true.
Only one person from each household may submit an application on behalf of their home. The deadline to apply is Oct. 16.
According to the program description, the grant money can be spent on things like paying rent, utilities, child care, personal protective equipment or medical bills. The medical bills, however, must be a result of a COVID-19-related medical issue.
Perman said medical bills eligible to be paid for using the grant money include treatment for COVID-19, a hospital stay as a result of having COVID-19, doctor visits related to the disease, or any medical supplies needed because of COVID-19. Perman also clarified that medical expenses are only eligible to be paid for using the grant funds if they have not already been covered by a person’s health insurance.
Applicants are required up front to document the extent of their financial need and to certify its truth, Perman said — it’s a way for the city to keep its ducks in a row when it comes to reporting how it distributed its CARES Act funding. Household representatives must submit an itemized list with their applications, detailing what the grant money will be spent on. If the funds given to a household are found to have been misused or if the city finds that an application was falsified, the household can be required to return the grant funds. Any grant funds not spent by Dec. 30 must be given back to the city.
Perman said the city will also ask applicants to keep a record of their relief grant expenditures. They must keep those records for six years, and they must be available upon request by the city. This is to make reporting easier when or if the city is audited following its use of CARES Act funding. Perman said it’s also just a good idea for families to hold onto those receipts and documents for their personal taxes.
Those interested in the household grants can apply online by going to the city’s website, cityofhomer-ak.gov. Applicants also have the option to download and print out the application, and turn it in to the City of Homer’s Finance Department’s dropbox by the Homer City Hall entrance.
Applications turned in physically must be in a sealed envelope and be addressed to Perman. People can also mail in their applications to:
City of Homer
ATTN: HERG – Sara Perman
491 East Pioneer Avenue
Homer, AK 99603
Reach Megan Pacer at firstname.lastname@example.org.