The city of Spokane poured $2.9 million of coronavirus relief funds into local nonprofits and businesses on Monday.
More than $1 million each was directed toward small business and rental assistance programs, with the remainder dedicated toward support for childcare providers.
The grants were the first allocated from $6.6 million the city received earlier this year from Washington’s share of The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. About half of that money is expected to cover the cost of the city’s own response to the COVID-19 crisis.
The Spokane City Council voted unanimously to approve the grant recipients on Monday, which were selected and recommended by a review committee consisting of administration officials and City Council members.
Three local organizations received funds for rental assistance programs totaling $1.34 million. Catholic Charities received $500,000, the Spokane Workforce Council received $822,000, and Family Promise of Spokane received $20,000.
Family Promise of Spokane and Catholic Charities will use their funds to distribute rental vouchers to clients who are seeking permanent housing, according to Spokane City Council President Breean Beggs.
The Spokane Workforce Council will assist tenants directly.
The council also funded two small business assistance programs. LiveStories was awarded $1.04 million and the Spokane Arts Commission received $300,000.
The Spokane Arts Commission will allocate half the funds to arts-related businesses, such as performance venues, and the remainder to individual artists affected by the pandemic.
LiveStories will distribute grants directly to local small businesses, Beggs said.
Community Minded Enterprises was awarded $222,000 to support expanded capacity and cleaning requirements at childcare facilities.
Monday’s grant awards could be the first of more to come. After announcing the winners of this round, the city announced a new request for proposals to tap into COVID-19 relief last week.
The city may look to use CARES Act funds as a local match in applying for funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. If successful, that approach would open up more resources for local assistance.
In total, the city expects to release between $3 million and $6 million of local aid.
To guide its decision-making, the city released a survey last month asking city residents to prioritize the relief spending.
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