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August 13, 2020 City Council Meeting
48. Confirmation of Budget Plan to Provide Eviction Prevention and Utility Payment Assistance to Savannah Residents with CARES Act Funds; Agreement With United Way For Qualifying and Funding Distribution Through United Way Agencies; Agreement With SBAC For Qualifying and Funding Distribution For Small Business Loans and Grants and Reimbursement For Qualified City Expenditures Related to COVID-19
Strategic Priority
Economic Strength And Poverty Reduction

On Thursday, the City received a check for $2,268,707 as the Phase 1 allocation (30%) of $7,562,356 from the State of Georgia’s allocation under the federal CARES Act Section 5001. The state distributed funds based on per capita population (except that local governments with population of 500,000 or more received direct allocation from federal government). Future distributions will be based on reimbursements.

While the City has waited several weeks for the first distribution, funding can only be used for “qualified purposes” and must be spent (with receipt or cashed check) by September 1, 2020. Qualified purposes include community uses related to hardships from COVID-19 (i.e. eviction assistance, mortgage assistance, rent assistance, utility payment assistance and small business loans/grants) as well as reimbursement to local governments for reimbursement of COVID-19 related expenditures, such as PPE (personal protective equipment), testing, and dedicated staff time. While Hazard Pay does not qualify, late Thursday afternoon, the state guidelines qualified Public Safety Pay.

In addition, the City has received notification (no funds) for $2,796,877 in CARES Act funding, as follows: $1,360,248, CDBG-CV1; $693,166, ESG-CV1; $2,103,711, ESG-CV2. As with the state distribution, the funds can only be used for qualified expenses; however, these funds must comply with additional federal regulations but are not restricted by the Sept. 1 deadline.

The Sept. 1 deadline places pressure on the City to distribute the federal funding. While the City could clearly access all of the $7,562,356 to pay down existing COVID-related impact by seeking reimbursement for Public Safety, staff is recommending a splitting 20% for City purposes and 80% for community purposes, as follows:

The City of Savannah is not structured to manage distribution of these funds for qualified purposes nor does time remain to begin a procedure to meet strict federal guidelines. The United Way of the Coastal Empire set up the Rapid Relief Fund to distribute $600,000 in assistance through community partners: Salvation Army, Wesley Community Center and Family Promise. United Way has set up an automated casework and tracking system and would be the most efficient way to distribute these funds in accordance with federal rules and City of Savannah guidelines (i.e. must be Savannah residents). In addition, because the Economic Opportunity Authority already works with federal assistance programs, EOA would become a partner agency. Georgia Legal Services will be assisting with legal representation as part of the eviction prevention.

A separate agreement would be entered into with the Small Business Assistance Program for small business grants/loans. According to SBA, qualified businesses that received initial round loans included 2/3 women-owned businesses and 1/3 minority-owned small businesses.



Pat Monahan, City Manager
Financial Impact
Review Comments
Exhibit 1: Agreement - CARES Funds United Way MOA.pdf
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