More than $ 30 million in US bailout funds will soon be distributed throughout the city of Erie.
Two of Mayor Joe Schember’s biggest plans for using ARP funds – focused on the plague, housing rehabilitation, helping businesses, reducing the plague, funding environmental cleanups and a host of other initiatives – were approved by Erie City Council at the regular panel meeting on Wednesday night.
The funding represents about 40% of the city’s overall allocation of $ 76 million from the $ 1.9 billion federal stimulus bill, enacted this year by President Joe Biden to help recovery from the pandemic of COVID-19.
Schember, at Wednesday’s meeting, thanked city council members for their votes, saying the funding will be used to affect the city’s residents hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, including communities in color.
The Board unanimously approved two resolutions regarding funding.
A resolution, approved by a 7-0 vote, sets aside approximately $ 17 million in ARP funds for various initiatives.
Following:Schember plans $ 17 million in COVID funds to help Erie restaurants and businesses and spur development
The proposal includes the following:
- $ 5 million to provide low-interest loans and grants to redevelop old industrial sites, including environmental remediation.
- $ 2.15 million to invest in various community assets in underserved neighborhoods.
- $ 2 million for a program that will help fund large-scale affordable housing projects. Projects must involve five or more dwellings.
- $ 2 million to help small businesses affected by the pandemic with debt restructuring assistance.
- $ 1 million for a small business loan / grant program that would help minority and women owned businesses.
- $ 1 million for Culture, Arts Festivals and Events of Erie, or CAFE, which is the nonprofit created as a fundraising vehicle for CelebrateErie. The money would be used to support local artists, musicians and performers; delivering programs to various urban parks located in low income areas; and to stimulate diversity and inclusion for the CelebrateErie festival.
- $ 1 million to provide low interest loans and grants for large redevelopment projects to improve the urban core / downtown of Erie.
- $ 1 million to provide additional capital for two municipal grant programs: the Flagship Fund, which helps small businesses; and the Commodore Fund, a business development assistance program.
- $ 1 million to provide technical support to small businesses.
- $ 500,000 for a new program that would provide grants of up to $ 5,000 to restaurants and entertainment businesses in the city that have lost revenue due to the pandemic.
- $ 300,000 for administrative costs related to the city’s ARP.
- $ 100,000 to support the KIVA Entrepreneurial Program, a crowd-funded micro-loan program that helps minority-owned businesses, immigrants and women who may have difficulty obtaining traditional financing from lenders.
The other resolution, also unanimously approved by the council, allocates just over $ 15 million in ARP funds to a number of housing-related programs that the Erie Redevelopment Authority will oversee.
The plan includes $ 3.2 million for grants to make homes in the city safe; $ 3 million for housing rehabilitation loans; $ 2.3 million for the construction of new homes; $ 2.3 million for a rental investment program; $ 1.8 million to acquire dilapidated properties within city limits; $ 990,000 for homeowner incentive grants; $ 990,000 for grants that will help homeowners and businesses meet city building / housing code requirements; and $ 500,000 for loans to minority entrepreneurs
“People need help,” said city councilor Kathy Schaaf.
Renee Lamis, Schember’s chief of staff, told council members that the city is working on quickly developing a grant / loan application for the funds.
“Many interested parties have asked about the funding,” Lamis said. “There will be a process developed by the city to process grant applications which will be very transparent. “
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Wednesday night’s city council votes sparked an important debate.
City Councilor Michael Keys questioned the decision to put $ 15 million in the hands of the Redevelopment Authority, in part because the authority had to reimburse money in the past and / or “rescheduled »Funding for other uses.
“We will be watching,” Keys said before voting yes on both resolutions.
Kathy Wyrosdick, the city’s director of district planning and resources, told council members the city will closely monitor how ARP funds are distributed.
In other cases, city council on Wednesday night approved a $ 1.7 million loan to Beacon Communities, the Boston-based owner of the downtown Richford Arms apartment complex.
Improvement plan:Could Richford Arms Modernization Plan Get $ 1.7 Million City Loan? Erie City Council will decide
Beacon is planning a major renovation of the property that is expected to cost more than $ 27 million. The zero rate loan will be repaid over 30 years.
The city has already approved a loan of $ 750,000 for the project. Tenants at Richford Arms range from people in their mid-twenties to seniors in the early 1990s, and they receive Section 8 rent subsidies or other assistance through the Federal Department of Housing and Government. Urban development.
City council also heard from several citizens regarding the legality of short-term rentals within city limits, such as Airbnb rentals.
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The city council plans to hold another public hearing on the issue before finally voting on a proposed ordinance that addresses the issue.