Seattle may spend $14 million in coronavirus relief dollars from the federal government on grants for small businesses, food deliveries to seniors, rent assistance for struggling tenants and meals at homeless shelters.
Mayor Jenny Durkan has sent legislation to the City Council to accept and allocate the funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act recently passed by Congress, she said Friday in a news release.
Durkan is proposing that Seattle spend the money in several ways:
- $5.3 million to provide rent assistance for households at risk for eviction or homelessness and for low-income people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS
- $5 million to support and expand food-delivery programs for older adults
- $2.1 million to provide additional meals at homeless shelters
- $1.5 million to provide additional $10,000 grants to small businesses
- $150,000 to help hospital patients transition to long-term care
United Way of King County teamed up with Seattle and other partners this month to launch a $5 million effort to help 2,000 households hurt by the coronavirus crisis pay rent. But 7,000 applications were submitted in 48 hours, Durkan’s office said. The extra funds could assist more households.
Workers and volunteers at dozens of senior centers and community centers that serve group meals to older adults were initially blindsided by the pandemic, which shut down their sites. Since then, they’ve built delivery systems out of thin air. The federal money could help with those efforts.
The coronavirus also has hobbled nonprofits that provide homeless services, though the city and county have opened additional shelters. The mayor’s legislation would direct dollars to shelters open 24/7, her office said.
Seattle this month awarded grants of $10,000 each to 250 small companies closed by Gov. Jay Inslee’s coronavirus order canceling nonessential business. Nearly 9,000 business owners applied, however. The additional $1.5 million could send grants to 150 more businesses, Durkan’s office said.
The CARES Act funds are flowing through multiple federal programs, including the Community Development Block Grant program and the Older Americans Act Grant program. The mayor said the next relief package passed by Congress should provide more aid to individuals who have lost jobs. “We know that the city alone cannot scale to the needs of this crisis as it relates to the needs of our residents and small businesses,” she said in her release.
The council could alter Durkan’s spending proposal. In the mayor’s release, Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda hailed the legislation and said she would sponsor it. Mosqueda chairs the council’s budget committee. She and Durkan didn’t immediately say exactly how soon the federal money could be spent.