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Coronavirus relief act brings $4.8 million to Western Massachusetts, says US Rep. Richard Neal

April 2, 2020
In The News

Five cities in the 1st Congressional District represented by U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal are getting $4.8 million under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed last week in Washington.

Neal, D-Springfield, announced the local grants and recipients. The program is rolling out nationwide under the $2.2 trillion federal economic stimulus plan.

The money comes through the familiar Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program cities use already to obtain federal funding.

These grants can fund things like manufacturing medical supplies, job training for health care workers, and constructing or rehabilitating public facilities for testing, diagnosing and treating COVID-19 and other uses.

The grant amounts are:

  • Springfield: $2,301,793
  • Pittsfield: $789,328
  • Holyoke: $744,265
  • Chicopee: $706,467
  • Westfield: $216,737

“With each assistance and stimulus effort, we seek to provide practical, impactful benefits to help people who need it most. We do not yet know the full scale of the economic impact of this pandemic, but these are the steps we can take immediately to help flatten the curve, save lives, and address the immediate needs before us,” Neal said.

“Western Massachusetts has been hard-hit by COVID-19 and this CDBG money will go directly to local needs. As Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, I will do whatever it takes to protect the health and financial security of our residents. Our work in Congress is far from over.”

Neal, was one of the authors of the $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package passed and signed into law March 27.

The law also provides for direct payment of $1,200 each to Americans — $2,400 for those who file taxes jointly, with $500 for each dependent child and an additional $600 a week in unemployment benefits.

Neal has said he and his congressional colleagues are working on another round of stimulus, one that would include spending on infrastructure projects like roads, bridges, airports, rail expansion, ports, water and sewer, and broadband internet.

The CDBG grants announced today can be used for projects in the following categories.

Buildings and improvements, including public facilities

  • Construct a facility for testing, diagnosis or treatment.
  • Rehabilitate a community facility to establish an infectious disease treatment clinic.
  • Acquire and rehabilitate, or construct, a group living facility that may be used to centralize patients undergoing treatment.
  • Rehabilitate a commercial building or closed school building to establish an infectious disease treatment clinic, for example, by replacing the heating, air conditioning and ventilation system.
  • Acquire and rehabilitate a motel or hotel building to expand capacity to accommodate isolation of patients during recovery.
  • Make interim improvements to private properties to enable an individual patient to remain quarantined on a temporary basis.

Assistance to businesses, including special economic development assistance

  • Provide grants or loans to support new businesses or business expansion to create jobs and manufacture medical supplies necessary to respond to infectious disease.
  • Avoid job loss caused by business closures related to social distancing by providing short-term working capital assistance to small businesses to enable retention of jobs held by low- and moderate-income persons.
  • Provide technical assistance, grants, loans and other financial assistance to establish, stabilize and expand microenterprises that provide medical, food delivery, cleaning, and other services to support home health and quarantine.

Public services

  • Carry out job training to expand the pool of health care workers and technicians that are available to treat disease within a community.
  • Provide testing, diagnosis or other services at a fixed or mobile location.
  • Increase the capacity and availability of targeted health services for infectious disease response within existing health facilities.
  • Provide equipment, supplies and materials necessary to carry out a public service.
  • Deliver meals to quarantined people or individuals that need to maintain social distancing due to medical vulnerabilities.