Downtown Anchorage, photographed on Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020. (Loren Holmes / ADN)
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With state and federal relief aid for the COVID-19 pandemic shrinking, the Municipality of Anchorage is taking steps to rapidly distribute $156 million, much of it in the form of relief grants and programs for businesses, renters and others, a local official said.
Many of the programs are still being created, and web links on how to apply for various types of aid will be added soon, said Felix Rivera, chair of the Anchorage Assembly.
“We want to get this money out there to benefit the community as soon as possible,” Rivera said.
Among other steps, the Assembly expanded a program to provide grants to small businesses, he said. It hopes to get newly allocated funds out the door quickly.
The Anchorage Economic Development Corp. found in April that one in six businesses feared they might not recover from the pandemic. With the crisis dragging on, AEDC soon plans to release details from a new survey detailing the pandemic’s impacts on Anchorage businesses.
Some of the available programs through the municipality include:
The administration recently allocated an additional $5 million to this program. Eligible businesses will receive $10,000 grants.
There appears to be strong interest. In two days, the expanded program last week received close to 350 applications after launching, according to a report from Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s administration.
To receive the grant, businesses must employ 20 or fewer people, have gross revenue of $1 million or less in 2019 and have been negatively impacted the virus.
Businesses that have received federal relief aid, including through the Paycheck Protection Program, can receive the grant.
Franchises aren’t eligible, but sole-proprietorships are among the businesses that can apply. The application period ends Sept. 12.
The municipality’s aid program website includes a link to apply.
Age-restricted businesses such as bars aren’t eligible for the small business and nonprofit grant.
But the municipality is working to create an application and program to distribute $14 million in funds to bars and other businesses in the hospitality and tourism industry.
“We’re hoping to get that out soon,” Rivera said.
The Assembly expanded its rental and mortgage assistance program. It has focused more than $20 million on reducing evictions and foreclosures, Rivera said.
“There are so many different needs to fund, so we have tried to do the most good for the most people possible,” he said.
An early round of funding from the city for the assistance has allowed Anchorage residents to make close to 2,000 housing payments worth $1.7 million, the administration said. About 75% of those payments covered rent, while the remainder covered home loans.
The web page will soon feature links directing people to applications, Rivera said. People can currently apply by dialing 211, or by going online to alaska211.org.
Grants for day care providers and parents who need help paying for child care will also be another big feature of the program, Rivera said.
The administration has allocated $5 million in child care assistance to help parents and guardians who meet income criteria.
It’s also allocated $10 million to support child care facilities.
“Keeping child care businesses open has been a huge concern,” Rivera said.
Additional money available includes:
• $3 million specifically to provide relief for nonprofits, including $220,000 to support the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
• $1 million for the Rapid Rehousing program to help people who have become homeless due to the pandemic.
• $4.5 million for the Public Lands Job program to pay for public works projects that create jobs for people who have become unemployed during the pandemic.
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