We understand that these have been incredibly challenging times for our community, and our local businesses have carried a heavy burden. Businesses have reduced capacity or may not even be able to operate, resulting in sacrifices that may not be feasible for them; employees have been laid off; families have lost loved ones; video-chatting with friends simply isn’t the same as a hug—this season has been difficult for many.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the City of Modesto has received a total of $30 million in COVID-19 relief funds from both the CARES Act and a US Department of Justice grant.
We have put that money to use in order to provide some relief for our community, and it has been vital in retaining jobs, maintaining the current level of transit service, operating emergency shelters, and more in Modesto.
Due to the unique criteria for eligible funding, the timing and type of money we receive is limited in its uses. The federal government requires that the money is used on eligible expenses that respond to, prevent, and prepare for COVID-19. Three departments and various programs have met that criteria.
Community and Economic Development: $6.4 million
The CARES Act specifically allocated funds towards Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and Emergency Services Grants (ESG).
The Small Business Assistance Program (SBAP) was launched in April to respond to the initial needs of Modesto small businesses. All 45 qualified businesses that applied received assistance from the City, amounting to $429,675. SBAP closed applications when the federal government funded the Paycheck Protection Program.
A total of $714,003 went to two local nonprofits in public service. The Children’s Crisis Center provides childcare for families affected by the virus, and Supplies for the Salvation Army responds to the housing and food needs of the homeless population.
For rental and mortgage assistance, $100,000 was awarded to two agencies experienced in awarding assistance to those in need. Additionally, $600,000 was allocated to partner in purchasing a building that will expand Respite Beds in the community.
The City also funded emergency shelter operations for both the Access Center Emergency Shelter and Berberian Shelter in addition to various Camp2Home programs, which exhausted the remaining funds.
Public Safety: $8.9 million, plus $500,000 from the US Department of Justice
The Modesto Police and Fire Departments were allocated $8,879,566 from the CARES Act for personal protection equipment (PPE), payroll, and overtime to maintain minimum staffing levels, as public safety officers have put the community first in responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
In addition, MPD applied for and received $500,000 from a US Department of Justice (DOJ) grant. It will use the DOJ grant to combat specific upticks in crime after the Stay at Home order took effect in March. The operations will target commercial and auto thefts/burglaries and combat domestic violence issues in our community.
MPD will also use the grant to purchase two kiosks for the main station lobby and the necessary equipment to increase staffing for the Telephone Reporting Unit/Real Time Crime Center. The lobby kiosks will provide those without internet access the ability to file reports and access information online. Both of these purchases will reduce the number of in-person contacts to phone and online reporting where appropriate.
Transit: $12.9 million
The CARES Act provided $12,927,978 in assistance to provide the same transit services to residents and employ all operational staff, despite a revenue gap created when the City offered free fares for a period of six months.
From April 6 to October 11, Modesto Area Express (MAX) and Modesto Area Dial-A-Ride (MADAR) offered free fare to provide financial relief for riders to complete essential travel. Free fare also limited interaction between drivers and passengers at the farebox to reduce close contact between non-household members. MADAR was able to offer isolated travel for individuals to and from COVID-19 testing sites.
The federal allocation purchased masks, driver barriers, and hand sanitizer for all buses. It also paid for supplies and labor for enhancing the cleaning of each bus.
We know that 2020 has been a hard year. We’re all waiting until we get the green light that we can go back to the “old” normal. But we would be remiss not to appreciate that this federal funding has helped and will help keep many families afloat in these turbulent times. It’s put food on the table, transported people to work, and kept our police and fire departments ready to handle any emergency.
Modesto is resilient. We will bounce back—together.