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City applying for federal COVID aid funds


June 10, 2020

The City of Sweet Home is applying for a federal grant that would fund public facilities and housing improvements for low- and moderate-income residents, and childcare services for local healthcare workers.

The City Council held a special meeting Tuesday evening, June 9, to conduct a public hearing that was required for the city to apply for the grant money. Present were Mayor Greg Mahler and councilors Susan Coleman, Lisa Gourley and Dave Trask, with Cortney Nash attending remotely.

The Community Development Block Grant funds would come from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Approximately $12 million will be awarded to Oregon non-metropolitan cities and counties this year.

The city is applying in conjunction with Linn County. The grant is available to all non-entitlement cities and unincorporated areas in Linn County, said Community and Economic Development Director.

He said Sweet Home is applying for up to $150,000 for aid to small businesses and microenterprise in the community, and is teaming with the Boys & Girls Club to apply for $50,000 to offer emergency child care services for healthcare workers, first responders, and other individuals who are unable to return to work due to the lack of adequate child care resulting from the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Roger Nyquist, chair of the Linn County Commission, said the county would work with the city on the applications.

He said he supported both applications and that he would work to ensure that an intergovernmental agreement would be in place for the micro-assistance grant application.

The grant funds are only available to counties and cities, and Larsen said, adding that it’s “good for multiple jurisdictions to apply together.”

All of the cities in Linn County are considered “non-entitlement” communities, meaning they don’t have direct access to HUD funding at the federal level, as Albany does, and have to work through the state of Oregon.

Larsen said the goal of the grant being pursued with the Boys & Girls Club is to provide public service related to the COVID-19 shutdown.

“One of the things I have been aware of that is really concerning is how difficult it is to get childcare right now for people wanting to return to work,” he said. “The Boys & Girls Club already does this. Basically, it would expand what they already do, but would be specifically targeted toward the low- to moderate-income residents.”

Larsen told the council that the small business grant money would benefit an estimated minimum of 150 people, “of whom 100 percent will be low- or moderate-income.”

The child care funds would benefit an estimated population of “at least 200 persons, of whom at least 51 percent will be low- or moderate-income.”

Larsen said, following the meeting, that city staff haven’t zeroed in yet on how the money would be spent.

“It’s kind of a moving target,” he said. “We’re working out some kinks in our application. There are a lot of restrictions regarding how this has to go. These are grants, not loans. We’re still working out grant sizes, eligibility criteria.”

For more information, contact Larsen at (541) 818- 8036.


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