The Bowling Green City Commission approved distributing $393,000 in federal coronavirus relief funds Tuesday to numerous local agencies to be used for housing needs amid the COVID-19-fueled economic downturn. The funding plan still has to be formally approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The city received the funds as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act and will be used for utility and housing payment assistance, according to Brent Childers, head of the city’s Department of Neighborhood and Community Services.
City Manager Jeff Meisel said the funding should allow the agencies to serve more than 670 local households.
The CARES Act funds come in the form of additional Community Development Block Grants from HUD. When the city received notice it would be getting the funding, it put out requests for proposals, with 10 entities responding.
City evaluators recommended that the city award funds for two applicants. The first, the Bowling Green-Warren County Welfare Center, is slated to receive $60,000. The bulk of the funds, about $330,000, will go to a consortium of local agencies called Together BG, Childers said.
“We are very pleased to see a group of organizations come together, not for themselves but to help the community,” he said.
Together BG’s lead agency is Barren River Area Safe Space and includes HOTEL Inc., Hope House, the Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity of Bowling Green-Warren County and Refuge Bowling Green.
Details on applying for the funds and guidelines will be formalized after HUD gives formal approval to the plan.
“That can take several days, but we hope to have that soon,” Childers said.
With that federal OK, the city commission will give final approval for the fund distribution at a future meeting.
While the program guidelines are still being developed, Childers said it will not be a requirement for those seeking aid to link their need directly to the COVID-19 pandemic. But he said there is a natural intersection between those who need help and those most impacted by the economic downturn amid the pandemic.
“When you have unemployment spike 15 or 17 percent, many of your lowest-income people are the hardest hit,” he said.
The city was eligible for the additional funds because it already receives CDBG funding to aid the city’s low-income populations.
Commissioners unanimously approved the funding plan at a meeting held via teleconference. The commission also approved during the meeting accepting more than $200,000 in grants for new 911 center equipment from the 911 Kentucky Services Board.
The funds will be used for upgrades to the local 911 center’s emergency power supply and for new dispatch consoles.
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