Show Me the Coronavirus Relief Fund Money
By: Sophia Checa
Did you know your community is eligible for funding under the Coronavirus Relief Fund? Did you know Texas received $11.24 billion? While $3.24 billion went directly to the 18 areas with populations over 500,000, Texas received $8 billion to be distributed across the rest of the state. Did you know as of June 30, 2020, only 10.4% of the payment to the State has been spent?
The CARES Act established the Coronavirus Relief Fund and appropriated $150 billion to the Fund. The purpose of this funding is to allow governments to respond directly to the emergency.
Areas can utilize this funding in a variety of ways to serve people experiencing homelessness including:
- Medical expenses such as costs of providing COVID-19 testing, emergency medical transportation, and establishing temporary public medical facilities and other measures to increase COVID-19 treatment capacity, including related construction costs.
- Public health expenses such as for the purchasing and distribution of medical and protective supplies, including sanitizing products and personal protective equipment, for social workers and direct service providers.
- Payroll expenses, including hazard pay, for human services and similar employees whose services are substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
- Expenses of actions to facilitate compliance with COVID-19-related public health measures such as expenses for food delivery to residents and for care for homeless populations.
- Any other COVID-19 related expenses reasonably necessary to the function of government that satisfy the Fund’s eligibility criteria.
It is important to mention that these funds cannot be utilized for expenses that have been or will be reimbursed by any federal program, such as Emergency Solutions Grant – CARES Act funding.
You might now be wondering how is the funding getting disbursed and how can people experiencing homelessness and advocates, including service providers, come together to request funds to serve people experiencing homelessness in your area.
For areas with populations less than 500,000, two things are happening:
- The Texas Department of Emergency Management (TDEM) is providing an immediate distribution of 20%. For many communities, this amounts to hundreds of thousands to over a million dollars.
- TDEM will distribute the remaining 80% through a reimbursement basis. Areas must submit documentation to TDEM and request reimbursement.
Why am I writing this blog post? To educate you about the fund and encourage you to reach out to your local official to ask them how they are using this funding to serve people experiencing homelessness. I’ve spoken with a lot of providers in the Texas Balance of State Continuum of Care, who want to do something but do not know where to get the money. This is an answer. Organize people experiencing homelessness and service providers to make a collective and clear ask for funding through the fund. Make calls. Send emails. Ask about it at City Council or County Commissioner Meetings. As y’all saw above, this money can, and should, go to supporting the work service providers are doing to prepare, prevent, and respond to COVID-19 among people experiencing homelessness.
Here are additional resources:
If you are in the Texas Balance of State Continuum of Care and want to talk about this, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.