Businesses saved. Nonprofits supported. Individuals and families protected from eviction. This is the early legacy of Maricopa County CARES Act spending.
From Maricopa County – At the direction of the Board of Supervisors, more than $230 million in CARES Act funds had been distributed by mid-September. With 71% of the County’s $399 million CARES Act allocation either spent or committed, the County is well on its way to having all funds distributed by the end of the year.
At the Board’s direction, this money is addressing the public health emergency and the financial fallout, with assistance programs for businesses, nonprofits, social service agencies, food banks, and schools. The county is also getting money to individuals and families, with rental and utility assistance for people struggling to pay their bills, as well as support for those experiencing homelessness.
SMALL BUSINESS RELIEF PROGRAM
Today, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors approved an additional $10 million in CARES Act dollars to support its popular Small Business Relief Program. The program provides grants to small businesses and nonprofit organizations to cover financial losses incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A lot of our local businesses and nonprofits feel like they’re robbing Peter to pay Paul right now. There’s simply not enough money to make ends meet,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Clint Hickman, District 4. “With grants distributed to more than 2,000 business and nonprofits to date, Maricopa County is doing its part to support these businesses and charitable organizations which are crucial to our economic recovery.”
The Small Business Relief Program provides grants up to $25,000 to qualifying businesses and 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. To date, Maricopa County, through the Arizona Community Foundation, has distributed more than $43 million in grants.
The Board had previously allocated $62.5 million to the program. Those funds are expected to be exhausted soon. Adding an additional $10 million will allow more businesses and nonprofits to apply for grants prior to the busy holiday season.
Interested businesses and non-profits can see a list of qualifications and apply at azfoundation.org/
FOOD BANK ASSISTANCE
Food insecurity is a huge issue in our community right now with people who have never relied on assistance turning to local food banks for help. That’s why the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors allocated $3 million in CARES Act funds to the non-profit Arizona Food Bank Network, which is distributing the money to large and small organizations that are meeting the needs of the community. To date, over $1.5 million has been awarded to forty-nine food banks that serve Maricopa County residents. Food banks are using these funds to meet increased demand, including for food to distribute to the community and equipment like refrigerators and freezers to store perishable food. Inquiries about agency qualifications or how to apply can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“So much good work is happening at the local level and we can use some of our CARES Act funding to support those efforts,” said Supervisor Steve Chucri, District 2. “By funding nonprofits, food banks, and agencies that help people experiencing homelessness, we are able to get experts on the front lines the resources they need to help some of the most vulnerable individuals in our community during this difficult time.”
The County’s COVID Crisis Rental Assistance Program continues to be refined to better protect renters at risk of eviction. This includes removing the three-month limit on rent payments and creating an avenue for Mesa residents to receive money through Mesa CARES.
In the first three months of the program, 2,985 households have received a combined 7,773 months (or $11.6 million) of paid rent, with another $3.9 million set to be distributed soon.
You can check eligibility, apply for assistance, and upload documents at maricopa.gov/CovidRentHelp.
To help residents who are unable to keep up with their gas and electric bills due to the pandemic, the Board of Supervisors allocated $6 million in CARES Act funding for utility assistance. The requirements are similar the rental assistance program, making it easy for residents in need to apply for both. Eligible applicants are provided up to $1,000 per household. You can check eligibility, apply for assistance, and upload documents at Maricopa.gov/COVIDUtilityHelp.
“Many families have experienced a loss of income during the pandemic, and all of a sudden, their nest egg is gone and paying the monthly bills is a challenge,” said Supervisor Bill Gates, District 3. “Our rental and utility assistance programs are designed to get checks to at-risk individuals and families faster, so they are able to stay in their homes. This is not just good for them, it’s good for our economy.”
PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY
The bulk of CARES Act spending has been directed to combating the pandemic, with millions allocated and spent on case investigation, contact tracing, testing services, personal protective equipment, and emergency preparedness and response. The Board, in coordination with Maricopa County Public Health, has kept a close eye on the spread of COVID-19 in our community, and efforts supported by CARES Act spending have been effective in bringing down case numbers from early summer spikes.
“We are facing a public health crisis and an economic crisis. I’m proud of the way this Board, our Public Health team, and and the entire county workforce has responded to protect community health and safety,” said Supervisor Jack Sellers, District 1. “We have also focused on keeping our businesses open and making sure employees can provide for their families.”
INTERNET ACCESS FOR SCHOOLS
The Board approved $6.8 million in CARES Act funds to purchase nearly 30,000 hotspots for 32 school districts in Maricopa County. The hotspots use cellular technology to make a connection to the internet. The County also paid for the first year of service. The hotspots will be delivered directly to the school districts by their chosen vendors, Verizon and T-Mobile, in early December.
“At this critical time, we must do all we can to ensure all children have access to the resources they need to get a good education,” said Supervisor Steve Gallardo, District 5. “The truth is, computer and internet access are as essential to learning as textbooks and #2 pencils, especially with so many districts doing virtual learning. Buying hot spots for schools is not just an investment in their present, but in our future.”
Maricopa County received $399 million from the U.S. Treasury as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). The purpose of this money is to cover expenditures related to the public health emergency that were not already included in fiscal year 2020 budget.
To learn more about COVID-19 assistance programs offered by Maricopa County, visit Maricopa.gov/TakeCare.