CITY HALL – More help is on the way to fight COVID-19, once the Board of Aldermen finishes work on a bill accepting $64 million in federal help.
The aldermanic Special COVID-19 Committee spent more than an hour Tuesday in a teleconference listening to Mayor Lyda Krewson’s Chief of Staff Stephen Conway and other city officials discuss an alphabet soup of programs getting help.
Conway said the money would be divided among the three categories of health, humanitarian aid and business.
“This pandemic is likely to be a long-term problem,” Conway said. “Much of what we have here is to address the humanitarian crisis that will be coming from the end of July and going forward.”
Conway noted that nearly 18,000 people in the city were collecting unemployment. They will stop receiving an extra $600 a week authorized by the CARES Act at the end of July. That law, whose full name is the Coronavirus Preparedness Supplemental Appropriations Act, is meant to ease the economic effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“That will put 17,000 people at the risk of not making their mortgages or paying their rent,” Conway said. “We realize that the federal and state unemployment will run out. People will begin to suffer.”
Conway said he hoped Congress would act on another CARES Act. It probably won’t happen until late July. But even then, there is no assurance that Congress will approve additional unemployment compensation, he said.
Major sources of the funding heading St. Louis’ way are the CARES Act ($35 million); Community Development Block Grants, ($11 million); Federal Emergency Management Act Grant Program ($10 million); and Emergency Solutions Grant Program, $5.4 million.
Among the sources providing smaller amounts are the Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS, $337,889; and the Bureau of Justice Assistance Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding Program, $1.4 million.
The city actually started getting the FEMA money earlier this year. It is for a variety of purposes, including personal protective equipment and sanitizing homeless shelters.
The city Health Department will receive $3.6 million for such things as more effective response to infectious disease, more staff, testing supplies and expanding telehealth at federal qualified health centers.
A total of $18.4 million for the Department of Human Services largely goes for services for the homeless, including rapid rehousing of people currently homeless, emergency shelters, street outreach for the homeless, eviction mediation and personal protection of Human Services subcontractors. Money will go for rental and mortgage assistance, a telephone housing helpline, shelter location and management, and rental and mortgage assistance.
A $16.2 million allocation for the Community Development Administration includes $4 million for small business support through the St. Louis Development Corp. Among the other allocations through the CDA are $1 million for food delivery for the elderly, $1 million for utility assistance and $2 million for affordable housing construction.
Police, ambulance, fire and corrections agencies are receiving $1.4 million, while $12.2 million is going for personal protective equipment, supplies, test kits and building improvements and sanitization.
A total of $2 million is for payroll costs related to the pandemic and $6.8 million is being put aside for contingency costs.
The committee will take comments at a Zoom teleconference meeting at 3 p.m. today, Thursday. Those wanting to view it may go to https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87989067416. Those wanting to testify should contact Board of Alderman Clerk Terry Kennedy at email@example.com. Or, call 314 589-6845 before 1 p.m. today.