In an effort to immediately help residents and businesses affected by COVID-19, the Sacramento City Council on Tuesday approved the use of $28 million in federal funding to provide local economic relief as well as services and support.
An additional $60 million in funding from the federal CARES Act will be allocated by the Council in the coming months, with the City Auditor’s Office conducting a community survey for input on how to best apply the resources.
The goal of Tuesday’s allocations was to “find the right balance between urgency and thoughtfulness in how to approach these expenditures,” Mayor Darrell Steinberg said.
Most of the allocations made Tuesday are subject to additional development and programming by staff. About $5 million reflects money already spent to respond to the COVID-19 emergency, including a $1 million, zero-interest loan fund for small businesses.
Tuesday’s vote included a set-aside of $10 million in direct financial assistance to small businesses, with a substantial amount for grants and a potential loan program with technical assistance. The City also approved $250,000 for a worker hotline to help people impacted by COVID-19 navigate the unemployment process.
Council members also voted to spend $5 million in stimulus funds to bolster the city’s battered creative economy as well as assist iconic institutions including the Sacramento Zoo and Fairytale Town.
Another $1 million will go to the city’s new Farm to Fork Al Fresco dining program, which allows and encourages restaurants in every neighborhood in the city to expand outdoor dining options to accommodate the maximum number of tables while allowing people to physically distance.
Council members also voted to dedicate more than $2 million to youth services, including a summer educational program with the city’s school districts to help students most affected by school closures. Another $1 million will go to provide free internet service to needy families throughout the city, an expenditure aimed at helping schoolchildren who have not been able to easily access online instruction.
The also Council allocated $2 million to address the effects of unsheltered homelessness, including $1 million toward a detox facility to treat people with methamphetamine and opioid addictions.
The City Council Tuesday also approved the basic framework for CARES Act spending laid out by Steinberg earlier this month. It includes $20 million for small business recovery and assistance, $20 million for youth and workforce training, $20 million for affordable housing and homelessness and $20 million to bolster the creative economy.
Most of the money approved Tuesday will count toward those totals.