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Neal Secures Nearly $5 Million in Grant Money for Western Mass Communities for COVID-19 Relief

April 2, 2020
Press Release
Funding will be awarded through Community Development Block Grant program of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

SPRINGFIELD, MA – Last week, Congress successfully passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, that was signed into law on Friday, March 27, 2020. The CARES Act, in part, provides for an additional $5 for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, including over $4.75 million in funds for communities within the district. These grants provide funding for needs like manufacturing medical supplies, job training for health care workers, and constructing or rehabilitating public facilities for testing, diagnosing and treating COVID-19, among others.

“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,” said Chairman Neal. “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.”

In Western Massachusetts, the following CDBG funds were secured:

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

Grantees may use CDBG funds for a range of eligible activities that prevent and respond to the spread of infectious diseases such as the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), such as: 

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, e.g., by replacing the HVAC system.
  • Acquire, and quickly rehabilitate (if necessary) a motel or hotel building to expand capacity of hospitals 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 on wheels to quarantined individuals or individuals that need to maintain social distancing due to medical vulnerabilities.

The funds may also be used for planning, capacity-building, and technical assistance in the furtherance of these goals.

The CDBG funding will be disbursed as follows:

  • $2 billion to be distributed by formula to current grantees;
  • $1 billion awarded directly to states, based on public health needs and other factors; and
  • $2 billion to be awarded on a rolling basis via a formula that prioritizes the risk of transmission of coronavirus, number of coronavirus cases, and economic and housing market disruptions resulting from coronavirus.

The legislation also waives the public services cap to allow communities to respond to the impacts of the pandemic.

ABOUT THE CARES ACT:

The CARES Act is the third bill enacted into law in response to COVID-19 and provides historic emergency relief to families, businesses, health care providers and local governments including the following.

  • A $150 Billion State and Local Coronavirus Relief Fund: Creates a $150 billion State and Local Coronavirus Relief Fund to provide states and localities additional resources to cope with the coronavirus pandemic. It is estimated that Massachusetts will receive approximately $2.67 billion in desperately needed funds to benefit our state’s residents.
  • $260 Billion in Dramatically Expanded Unemployment Benefits: Includes numerous provisions to improve unemployment benefits including providing an additional $600 per week for the next four weeks, providing an additional 13 weeks of federally funded benefits, and expanding eligibility to include workers in the gig economy and self-employed workers.
  • Immediate Direct Cash Payments to Lower and Middle-Income Americans:Provides for immediate, direct cash payments to lower-and middle-income Americans of $1,200 for each adult and $500 for each child, beginning to phase out at an annual income of $75,000 for an individual and $150,000 for a household.  These payments will provide individuals with the cash they need right now to survive with much of the economy currently shut down.
  • More Than $375 Billion in Small Business Relief: Provides more than $375 billion in small business relief, including $349 billion for forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees and keep them on the payroll; $17 billion for debt relief for current and new SBA borrowers; and $10 billion in immediate disaster grants.
  • Approximately $200 Billion for Our Hospitals, Health Care Workers, and Health Research: Provides an investment of about $200 billion in our hospitals, health systems, and health research, including expanding funding for the personal protective equipment desperately needed by our health care workers, including ventilators, n95 masks, gowns, gloves, etc.
  • More Than $100 Billion in Additional Emergency Appropriations, Including:
    • Transit Agencies: Provides $25 billion to transit agencies, which have all seen a drastic drop in revenues as social distancing has been implemented.  This funding is to be used to protect the jobs of the employees of the transit agencies, funding their paychecks during this public health emergency.
    • HUD Emergency Solution Grants: Provides $2 billion for HUD Emergency Solution Grants to states that will be distributed by formula. These grants are designed to address the impact of the coronavirus among individuals and families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and to support additional homeless assistance, prevention, and eviction prevention assistance. 
    • Child Care and Development Block Grant: Supports child care and early education by providing $3.5 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant.
    • Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): Provides $900 million to help low-income families pay their heating and cooling bills. 
    • Byrne-Justice Assistance Grant Program: Provides $850 million for this program, giving additional support to state and local law enforcement agencies, thereby allowing them, for example, to obtain the personal protective equipment and other medical items they may need during this public health emergency.
    • CDC Coronavirus State, Local and Tribal Grants Minimum Awards:Provides about $750 million in CDC State, Local, and Tribal Grants Minimum Awards to help agencies cope with the public health emergency.
    • Election Assistance: Provides $400 million for Election Assistance Grants for states to help prepare for the 2020 elections. Coronavirus is already resulting in the postponement of some primaries and this funding can help states make voting safer for individuals.

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