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City receives additional federal funding to support COVID-19 economic recovery

PMG FILE PHOTO - Human Solutions, led by Executive Director Andy Miller, is one organization receiving financial support through the Community Development Block Grants. Gresham City Council voted unanimously Tuesday, July 7, on a roadmap for community grant funding that will support nonprofit organizations and other vital groups throughout the coming fiscal year.

Gresham's Community Development Block Grant and HOME funds provide financial opportunities for programs that support the most vulnerable populations in the community. Funding also help stabilize neighborhoods, encourage economic development and provide basic infrastructure and public services to low-income communities.

The basic goals for the funds include improving affordable housing, reducing homelessness, and provide economic infrastructure and opportunities. This year, the total funds available is $1,269,853 — comprised of Department of Housing and Urban Development allocations, program income and 2019 carryover.

Council went through a public hearing to hear from stakeholders before giving the greenlight to the grant plans for Fiscal Year 2020-21. The proposed funding was finalized by the Community Development and Housing Subcommittee.

Plans for the funds include:

— Housing development/rehabilitation: $218,323

— Economic development: $255,083

— Public services: $163,477

— Public improvements: $415,000

— Administration: $217,970

Some of the partner programs receiving funds include Human Solutions, El Programa Hispano, Metro Family Services, Family of Friends and Eastside Timbers

Not everything is finalized, and council did indicate a desire to shift some of the funds around because of problems surrounding COVID-19. An annual payment of $150,000 for the children's fountain in the Gresham Art's Plaza may be deferred on a recommendation from Councilor Jerry Hinton toward programs or support for kids stuck at home with nothing to do during the pandemic.

Councilor Eddy Morales also pointed to the $185,000 earmarked for RV towing and illegal homeless camp cleanups as a non-priority during the pandemic.

City staff will examine those payments and see if they can be redirected to new avenues that meet timely needs while remaining within the development grant guidelines.

Additional emergency funding

This year, there is more money for the city of Gresham to allocate through the Community Development Block Grants due to the ongoing emergency surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

On March 27, the Federal government passed the CARES Act, which included money to be used by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to prevent, prepare for or respond to the novel coronavirus within the normal funding guidelines.

From that COVID-19 fund, Gresham received an additional $641,125 to support local programs. The money will be used on rental assistance through Human Solutions; reimbursing some of the business grants allocated by the city; low-income meal assistance; and childcare, mortgage and utility assistance.


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