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City Initiates Release of Third Phase of Coronavirus Relief Funds to Community

Third round of funding includes $12.6 million for continued shelter, economic relief, childcare services

The City and County of Denver is preparing to release a third round of federal Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) dollars to increase shelter capacity for people experiencing homelessness, provide rental assistance to 180 more Denver households, economic relief for nonprofits and businesses, childcare services for workers, and for continuation of the temporary shared streets program. The city presented a package of 21 projects totaling $12.6 million to City Council’s Finance and Governance Committee on Tues., Oct. 20 and is already working to release the funds to the community. An additional $1.69 million will be used to fund six projects related to city’s direct expenses for the emergency response, including HVAC sterilization equipment and touchless fixtures at city facilities, data analytics for tracking the city’s virus response, and care support for essential city workers caring for children, parents, grandparents, and other dependents.

“The coronavirus continues to impact our community and economy on all fronts, so it is critical we continue to support our community needs across the board from housing and childcare support to helping local businesses and nonprofits survive in this economic crisis,” Mayor Michael B. Hancock said. “We intentionally phased our release of coronavirus relief funding to ensure we were able to support our community for the duration of 2020, which is even more necessary now given the inaction by the White House to continue federal support to our communities.”

Denver received $126.8 million in CRF dollars on April 21, 2020. Including the Phase 3 recommendations, Denver has allocated $121 million for community support and citywide operations, leaving $5.8 million yet to be deployed. Phase 1 funds, announced on May 29, totaled $20 million. Phase 2 funds, announced on Aug. 6, totaled $25.6 million, and Phase 3 funds, announced on Oct. 20, total $12.6 million. In each instance, the city focused on key areas of shelter and housing ($50.5M), economic support and recovery ($20M), emergency food ($3M), and public health ($7.5M) needs. The city plans to use approximately $40 million of CRF dollars to fund citywide emergency needs such as offsetting emergency costs like eligible payroll and operations expenses, making public health improvements to public buildings, matching FEMA funds provided for the emergency response ($15M), and technology to help the city workforce operate securely and efficiently in remote settings.

The 17 projects to be funded through the Phase 3 CRF release include:

  • Emergency Sheltering - $8.3M
    • $3.34M Expanded support for a new 48th Ave. shelter for people experiencing homelessness to increase system capacity to serve general shelter needs
    • $2.7M Life/safety improvements at a DHA-owned property serving as a shelter for women and transgender individuals
    • $1.9M Continued shelter operations for approximately 90 women and transgender individuals
    • $260,000 To address shelter needs until additional capacity is available in the system
  • Housing Support - $1M
    • $1M  Additional rental and utility assistance through the TRUA program which is expected to serve approximately 180 additional households for up to four months
  • Economic Recovery for Non-Profits and Local Businesses impacted by the coronavirus – $2.4M
    • $972,000 Supports efforts to increase economic activity at Denver restaurants and hotels through Restaurant Week, COVID-19 safe holiday events, and discount promotions
    • $150,000 Funding for technical assistance and outreach to small brick and mortar retail stores in NEST neighborhoods that lack online sales channels to help them get online, learn the new technology, and manage sales and inventory.
    • $750,000 Additional support for non-profits impacted by COVID-19
    • $250,000 Utility payment support for 50 non-profits for the final months of 2020
    • $250,000 Targeted support for the disability community, immigrants and refugees, Native American communities, the faith community, and seniors.
  • Childcare and Children’s Organizations - $800k
    • $300k To support a partnership between the Office of Children’s Affairs (OCA) and Mile High United Way to support family, friend and neighbor caregiver programs in Montbello, Westwood, and East Colfax
    • $200k To support a partnership between OCA and the Denver Early Childhood Council for local licensed childcare providers.
    • $150k Funding for middle school remote engagement/learning centers
    • $100k Additional support for Phase 2 CRF mini-grants through OCA
    • $30k Funding for safe in-person after school programs for current OCA grantees
    • $20k Funding for winter camps offering care for students during extended school breaks
  • Public Health - $130k
    • $130k Continues the Temporary Shared Streets program into November-December
  • An additional $1.698M for Citywide Support - $1.698M (from the city’s $40M set aside for citywide operations)
    • $650k Permanent escalator handrail sterilization, UV disinfection systems, touchless entry doors, and an air sterilization system to prevent the transmission of airborne disease at the Colorado Convention Center
    • $500k Consolidation of COVID-19-related data sets in a single repository to enable quicker analytic capabilities
    • $200k Funding to establish backup child/elder care for essential city employees
    • $163k Sterilization system enhancements to HVAC systems in Arts & Venues theaters to prevent the transmission of airborne diseases
    • $124.5k Sterilization system enhancements to HVAC systems in the Bonfils Theater Complex to prevent the transmission of airborne diseases
    • $60k Replacement of paper towel dispensers, faucets, soap dispensers, toilets, and water fountains with touch free options in Arts and Venues facilities

The city continues to hold $22.7M for contingency/reserve in the event FEMA does not cover the cost of providing emergency shelter for people experiencing homelessness. The city has requested FEMA reimbursement for those costs and expects a determination from FEMA in the coming month. If FEMA agrees to reimburse the sheltering costs, and depending on timing of the approval, the city will distribute another phase of CRF funding (Phase 4) to the community. The city will also look at funding additional eligible citywide operations costs through CRF, making more city funds available to support a continued pandemic response into 2021.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act established the $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) to provide payments to State, Local, and Tribal governments navigating the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. CRF funds may not be used to replace lost revenue and may only be used to cover eligible expenses incurred March 1, 2020 to Dec. 30, 2020, meaning all funds must be expended by Dec. 30.

The City and County of Denver, when totaling federal FEMA approved, FEMA requested, CRF, and local coronavirus response special revenue fund, will allocate a total of $243.8M toward its coronavirus pandemic response.