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New COVID Funding Discussions in Irving

Irving – As businesses start to open back up and COVID continues to spread, the Irving City Council received additional federal funding to assist those in the community.

During the May 7 city council work session, DeLiza Gierling, city of Irving community development manager, presented the council with suggestions on how to allocate the funds given through the CARES Act. The funds came in two parts, a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) for $1,356,538 and Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) for $678,434.

“You can use [CDBG] with many activities,” Gierling said. “With the COVID funds, there are still a broad range of activities, but it has to be specifically to prevent and or respond to the spread of COVID.”

The items included in the possible funding include public testing, delivering meals, training health care workers, rental assistance, providing grants or loans to support businesses and more. The Housing and Human Services Board met on April 22 and came up with five initial categories for the spending.

“The first category is our funding of $200,000 to our in-house rental/mortgage assistance program,” Gierling said. “This would be able to assist families up to 80 percent area median income. Staff would like to assist for a minimum of three months to eligible families.

“The [second] amount was $300,000 to do an in-house program for rental/mortgage assistance to eligible businesses. Businesses that are in low-income areas or have employees that are low to moderate income. This would be for payments for approximately 90 days so that we would help with the rent so they can turn around and pay their employees

“The next three categories would be put out for notice of funding availability which would be for non-profit or for-profit providers to do different activities. The third category is for local medical providers. This would be for providers who wish to help in hospitals or clinics to provide testing, medical supplies, staff training, etc. that they did not already have prior to this.

“The fourth category is for agencies to provide food or meals. The last one would be open to any agency that has any COVID related programs such as counseling, rental assistance, senior services, etc. It’s a very broad bucket, which $300,000.

“Since our board meeting, staff has had internal discussions with different types of agencies, such as the hospital, to provide additional consideration to help the homeless who are COVID positive or presumed positive that are not severe enough to be admitted. We’d like to reduce the medical category by $15,000 to provide dedicated funds to Irving Cares. Irving Cares is a signatory to the City of Irving Emergency Operations Plan. The last time we spoke to the hospital they were not anticipating that many individuals. We’ve selected 10 individuals for approximately 15 days at approx. $100 days to equal $15,000.

“The ESG allocation for us is a substantially larger amount than our normal allocation. It is more restrictive in eligible uses. With this one we can currently assist families who are 50 percent of area median income. We can only use the funds that go towards Homeless prevention assistance, rapid rehousing and shelter operations and maintenance.

“With this funding, if a family or individual asks us for assistance to get into an apartment under the rapid rehousing program, we are eligible to pay for their hotel stay so they are out of the COVID community and can be put in there while they transition into an apartment,” Gierling said. “We are looking at doing this for an in house rental up to 90 days and for the rapid rehousing could potentially be up to a year.”

Additionally, Gierling said they can fund organizations for COVID related spending dating since April 1.

Gierling also said in order for the funds to be released to the people, there will be a period of time for citizens to have public comments on the matter. Citizens can send comments until May 18 to dgierling@cityofirving.org. This allows for the department to create what is called a Substantial Amendment required by HUD.

After the comment period closes, the city council will then approve the amendment at its May 20 meeting. Those who apply for the funding will be notified late May–early June if they received funding and then at the June 25 meeting, the council will approve the distribution of funds.