Homer City Hall. (Homer News file photo)

Homer City Hall. (Homer News file photo)

New financial relief grant programs created for Homer organizations, families

Organizations and individual families left out of Homer’s first grant relief program for small businesses will soon have opportunities to seek financial assistance, now that the Homer City Council has created an additional four grant programs to serve the community.

The council passed a resolution at its Monday meeting that establishes four new grant programs to bring financial relief to different sectors of Homer’s economy in the wake of the ongoing pandemic. The resolution creates grant programs specifically for individual households/families, for child care services, for social services and for nonprofit organizations.

These four new programs join the city’s existing grant program for small businesses.

At the same meeting, the council also passed the ordinance needed to actually appropriate the CARES Act funds to each individual grant program. In all, the council appropriated about $4 million to the new programs. The city of Homer received nearly $7.9 million in total. According to the funding appropriation ordinance, the city has already appropriated $3 million of that total CARES Act amount to the Small Business Economic Relief Grant Program, $90,000 to administrative costs associated with administering that program, $130,000 to reimburse city funds used in an emergency capacity early on in the pandemic, and $445,000 to repay the city for staffing expenses associated with the pandemic.

Also through the ordinance, the council appropriated $200,000 specifically for South Peninsula Hospital “for expenses incurred in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” as well as $20,680 to the Alaska Municipal League for the same reason.

An amount of $108,312 was appropriated to fund COVID-19 related personnel costs at the city projected over the next 60 days. The ordinance also appropriates $222,537 to pay for city material and service expenses “including capital expenses that qualify for reimbursement under the CARES Act and are approved by the Homer City Council projected for the next 60 days.”

Remaining CARES Act money is to be placed in a “dedicated account” and kept ready for any additional COVID-19 related expenses, according to the ordinance.

The four new grant programs are:

1) Nonprofit Economic Relief Grant Program (NERG). This program is designed to help nonprofit organizations in Homer or providing services in Homer city limits. The council appropriated $750,000 to this program to be given out as grants. Applying nonprofits must be a 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4), 501(c)(5), 501(c)(6), 501(c)(19), 501(e) or 501(k) designated nonprofit entity under the Internal Revenue Service. Nonprofits must have been providing services since at least Jan. 1 to be eligible. The grants in this program can be used for things like loan payments, paying wages and benefits to employees, operating expenses like utilities, and buying personal protective equipment.

2) Social Services Economic Relief Grant Program (SoSerg). This program is to serve organizations that provide social services such as mental health services, child and family support services that are substantially different than child care, job training, housing assistance or food/nutrition services. The city council appropriated $200,000 to the program to be given out in grants of up to $25,000. In order to be eligible for these grants, organizations must meet the same criteria as small businesses and nonprofits have to for their respective grant programs. Organizations who already received funds from either the small business grant program or the nonprofit grant program can potentially also be eligible for funds through the social services grant program. That’s only if the expenses the organization is applying to have covered have not already been covered by those other programs.

3) Childcare Business Economic Relief Grant Program (CBERG). The city council appropriated $150,000 to this program for grants. Licensed child care providers are eligible for grants of up to $30,000. Legally exempt providers are eligible for grants of up to $5,000, and businesses/nonprofits that are providing afterschool services are eligible for grants of up to $10,000. Afterschool care for school-aged children, toddlers and infants all qualifies for this program.

4) Household Economic Relief Grant Program (HERG). The council appropriated $1.5 million to this program to be given out in the form of one grant per household. At least one member of the household who is at least 18 years old has to be a city resident, and they have to have lived within city limits prior to March 18 to be eligible. Grants will be up to $1,000. The person applying on behalf of the household must demonstrate in the application how the home has experienced economic hardship as a result of the pandemic. These family grants can be used for things like paying rent and utilities, paying child care fees, buying groceries, medical bills or buying PPE.

To be eligible for any of the city’s economic relief programs, an applicant has to be able to show they’ve been impacted by either loss of income or additional expenses caused by COVID-19. Applicants can’t apply using costs that have already been covered by another financial aid program. All grantees must spend the funds in accordance with CARES Act guidelines.

All grant funds that get awarded must be spent by Dec. 30, 2020. If they aren’t, the balance has to be returned to the city.

More information on eligibility requirements for each specific program can be found here: cityofhomer-ak.gov/sites/default/files/fileattachments/ordinance/64011/city_of_homer_economic_relief_grant_programs.pdf

Reach Megan Pacer at mpacer@homernews.com.

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