ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Anchorage Assembly passed an emergency ordinance to provide financial relief to some businesses and residents hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

The assembly voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a request by Democratic Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s administration to allocate $1 million to a small business relief fund, The Anchorage Daily News reported.

The fund would distribute $10,000 grants to 100 small businesses suffering financial losses that have not received federal recovery assistance.

The first round of disbursements to businesses will help inform the city whether $10,000 grants are sufficient, Economic and Community Development Director Chris Schutte said.

The assembly approved another $1 million for a housing costs relief fund, which will be disbursed through an established United Way program.

Renters and homeowners can apply by calling Alaska 211 and funds will be paid directly to landlords or banks of those seeking mortgage assistance.


“We are receiving north of 50 calls per day to 211, asking for this type of assistance,” mayoral Chief of Staff Jason Bockenstedt told assembly members Tuesday.

Both initiatives are pilot projects the city hopes to expand after receiving additional federal and state money, Bockenstedt said.

“This is a small dip in the bucket to what probably the overall need is, but we wanted to try and get funding into both small businesses’ and resident’s hands,” Bockenstedt said. “As each day passes, we know there’s more and more concern.”

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.