Mayor Frank Jackson has unveiled the City of Cleveland’s plan for recovery in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Using its own resources and funds obtained through the CARES Act, the City aims to: (1) continue to implement measures to limit the spread of coronavirus; and (2) mitigate the social and economic short-term impacts of the pandemic. With regard to the latter, Mayor Jackson announced several new financial aid and relief programs to support businesses that have closed or are at risk of closing as well as new relief programs to support individuals struggling with basic needs, all as further described below:
Programs to Support Businesses That Have Closed or That Are at Risk of Closing
The City is launching three new low-interest loan programs to support businesses whose revenues have suffered due to the pandemic:
- Restoration Working Capital Program: This $5.5M program will provide low-interest loans to large (over 30 employees) and small businesses, to be used for: payroll, rent/mortgage payments, utilities and accounts receivable. Large businesses can borrow up to $100,000 and small businesses can borrow up to $25,000. In either case, the borrower must demonstrate impact from the coronavirus on cash flow or revenue. Preference will be given to businesses that are unable to access other coronavirus-related capital, that are able to retain and/or restore pre-coronavirus employment and that show a substantial negative impact on revenues. Other criteria also may apply.
- Emergency Working Capital Program: This $3M program will be available to small businesses to help with working capital needs, including rent/mortgage payments, utilities and payroll. Low-interest loans of up to $10,000 with repayment deferred until Jan. 2021 will be available to these businesses. Borrowers will be required to demonstrate impact from the coronavirus on cash flow or revenue, and those that can retain or restore pre-coronavirus employment and can show a substantial negative impact on revenues will be preferred. Additional criteria may apply.
- Emergency Working Capital Program – Specially Impacted Businesses: This $2M program will be available to restaurants, personal care businesses and storefront retail establishments and will assist with working capital needs, such as rent/mortgage payments, utilities, payroll and the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE). The loans are capped at $20,000 with 50% (up to $10,000) being forgivable if used to purchase PPE. Each borrower must demonstrate the impact of coronavirus on cash flow or revenue and that they are a locally-owned small business. Those that are unable to access other coronavirus-related capital, that can retain or restore pre-coronavirus employment and that can show a substantial negative impact on revenues will be preferred. Borrowers also will be required to provide a “business sustainability plan” outlining how they expect to re-orient their business to respond to changing operations. Additional criteria may apply.
Programs to Support People Struggling with Basic Needs
- Residential Rental Assistance: The City has allocated $11.3M, including HUD funds, to provide rental assistance to qualifying residents for up to 90 days. The program will be administered through several social service agencies within the City that have experience providing emergency rental assistance.
- Basic Needs Assistance: The City will allocate $4.25M to agencies that can help provide basic needs to the City’s residents, such as food access and delivery, utility assistance, senior services, homelessness outreach and referrals to other services.
- Special Needs Assistance: The City will provide $2.5M to Cuyahoga County’s Homeless Service to help offset additional demand based on the pandemic for homeless individuals and individuals with HIV/AIDS. Additional services will include hotel rentals to deconcentrate shelter populations, quarantining of individuals with compromised immune systems and increased staffing costs due to hazard pay.
- Broadband Assistance: Recognizing the long- and short-term need to provide internet connectivity to Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) families, especially while engaging in remote learning, the City is contributing $500,000 to a partnership with CMSD and DigitalC to provide internet access to 1,000 new households in the district. The investment will cover broadband infrastructure, household equipment and devices for students.
In addition to the new programs and forms of assistance outlined above, the City also continues to implement measures to limit the spread of coronavirus. As part of the recovery plan the City will engage in a public education campaign and provide prevention support to at-risk populations through partnering with hospitals and long-term care facilities to support testing, PPE provision and other areas of support as needed. The City also plans to expand its community outreach staff.