CoronavirusNewsThe SouthSider

Hundreds of St. Louisans seek $500 pandemic aid; more can get help to apply

CITY HALL — St. Louis officials announced on Sunday more opportunities in the weeks ahead for people to receive in-person help in applying for Direct Cash Assistance, a new $5 million pandemic aid program that will provide $500 apiece to everyone who qualifies.

More than a thousand St. Louisans have already applied for the aid. But these events, being organized and run by a combination of city health professionals and the United Way of Greater St. Louis, are specifically for people who are elderly, disabled and/or lack internet access.

The upcoming events will be at the Wohl Center, 1515 N. Kingshighway Boulevard.

More than 500 people got in-person help with their applications Saturday at such an event at St. Louis Community College.

Russell Hayes III, 60, said he planned to use the money to fix his truck, which he needs to make money doing odd jobs such as yard work and hauling scrap.

Karen Williams, 68, of The Ville neighborhood, said the money would help her cover her electric bills and rent.

“We know that $500 doesn’t solve all the problems in the world,” said city Treasurer Adam Layne, whose office is involved with the program. “We know that a lot of people are in tough situations right now because of the pandemic. So we’re hoping that this is an opportunity to alleviate some of those burdens.”

City officials set the program up with some of the $498 million in federal aid St. Louis expects to receive over two years.

“We are trying innovative new strategies to invest directly in neighborhoods and families, with American Rescue Plan funds,” Mayor Tishaura Jones said in a statement.

To be eligible for the program, St. Louis residents must have lived in the city for at least a year and have income that is at or below the area’s median income. Recipients must also have lost income because of the pandemic. A full list of eligibility requirements, needed documents, and Frequently Asked Questions can be found on the city website.

The events at the Wohl Center will be Dec. 20-22 and Dec. 27, 9 a.m.-noon each of those days. Starting Jan. 4, the Wohl Center will be open Monday-Saturday, again 9 a.m.-noon, with evening hours on Wednesday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. These hours will run through Jan. 15. Reservations are encouraged, but walk-ins will be accepted as time allows. 

Meanwhile, aides to US. Rep. Cori Bush will staff “Congress in Your Neighborhood” service desks at city libraries to give people information on how to apply for the $500 grants. Bush staffers will be at Walnut Park Library (5760 W. Florissant Avenue) on Dec. 22 from noon to 5 p.m.; and Carpenter Library (3309 S. Grand Boulevard) from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

“Our work is to do the most for everyone in Missouri’s First District, starting with those who have the least. We are committed to creating that change our entire community can feel,” Bush said in a statement. She said her aides could answer questions about “anything from immigration services to tax resources.”

“If you’re looking for a little extra help this season, St. Louis, your mayor and your congresswoman are here for you,” Bush added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Staff is home to The NorthSider and The SouthSider weekly community newspapers. The SouthSider publishes 25,000 copies every Tuesday. The NorthSider publishes 25,000 copies every Thursday. They are distributed at over 600 locations across St. Louis.

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