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Posted on: November 18, 2020

City Council hears progress report on community CARES Act allocations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

At Tuesday's Council Lunch Workshop, Planning & Development staff presented City Council with a progress report on the first round of local community-designated Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and HOME Program grant allocations, totaling about $1.1 million.

The council passed a bill in July allocating $916,138 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) COVID-19 funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as a result of the CARES Act to assist Springfield citizens with affordable housing assistance, services for the homeless and forgivable economic recovery business loans. The City allocated an additional $200,000 of HOME funds.

“We understand there are folks who needed this money in the form of rent assistance or affordable housing months ago,” said Director of Planning & Development Mary Lilly Smith, in June, when the council passed the bill. “It’s our intention to get these funds out the door as soon as possible.”

The breakdown of the fund allocations was:

  • $458,000 for rental assistance, disbursed by OACAC, Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri, The Salvation Army and the Housing Authority of Springfield. 78 families assisted and $239,830 spent.
  • $100,000 for homelessness diversion, disbursed by Community Partnership of the Ozarks. 63 households helped and $77,646 spent.
  • $155,038 in public services, disbursed by The Kitchen, Harmony House, Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri, The Salvation Army, Ozarks Food Harvest and Isabel’s House. 429 beneficiaries and $44,741 spent.
  • $403,100 in forgivable economic recovery business loans. 78 low/mod jobs retained, plus many others above the low/mod threshold. $403,100 in loans made.
      

“We couldn’t have gotten these funds out the door to help our community without our partner agencies … they are the boots on the ground and they have done a yeoman’s job of really pushing this funding out,” said Assistant Director of Planning and Development Brendan Griesemer. “We also were able to allocate business loans to assist struggling businesses as well.” 

The business loans were up to $10,000 and businesses must have retained a certain number of employees based on their pre-COVID-19 employment level in order to qualify. Applicants who submitted complete applications were awarded the funds in as little as two weeks.

“Local business owners were so innovative trying to stay afloat during the shutdown period caused by COVID-19, but for many businesses, there was no way to replace the income that was lost during that time,” said Economic Development Director Sarah Kerner in June. “By offering these forgivable loans, we hope to shore up Springfield’s small businesses and maintain as many jobs as possible for years to come.”

 Today, Griesemer informed the council that more CARES Act funds are in the pipeline to assist the community. They include:

  • Missouri Housing and Development Commission Emergency Solutions Grant funds for homeless services. A total of $28,331,553 is available to be used statewide and is yet to be allocated, Griesemer said. 
  • Missouri Department of Social Services Community Services Block Grant and Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program funds. Griesemer said that OACAC has received about $2.6 million to assist its 10-county region with rent assistance, medical co-pay assistance, mental health services, prescription assistance and about $15 million to assist with heating bills from November through March. 
  • Missouri Department of Economic Development Community Development Block Grant- funds in the amount of nearly $18 million, for which Griesemer said Springfield may be eligible.

 “The DED hasn’t allocated those funds yet, but as soon as they do, we expect to make application to bring a portion of those funds to Springfield to assist our community,” he said. 

Griesemer asked the council to provide input from constituents to guide allocations for round 3 of CARES Act funding, which is expected to be about $1.1 million and could be disbursed to local agencies by as early as January. 

Councilman Abe McGull indicated he had already received input from constituents about the need for additional cold-weather sheltering options for the homeless. 

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For more information, please contact Assistant Director of Planning & Development Brendan Griesemer at 417-864-1695 or Director of Public Information & Civic Engagement Cora Scott at 417-380-3352 or cscott@springfieldmo.gov

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