Residents economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic can now receive more money from the county.
The Alachua County Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to increase the maximum award for the individual section of its CARES Act grant program to $5,000. Prior to the change, individuals could only receive up to $2,500.
The county will award $750,000 to residents who have already applied for the grant, said April Shuping, a partner at Carr, Riggs & Ingram, the accounting firm contracted by the county.
The grant program, funded with part of the $46.9 million the county received from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), awards money to individuals or businesses who have faced economic hardship amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The individual grant has received just under 5,000 applications, Shuping said. More than half of the applications will be processed over the next two weeks. Only 15% of applicants have received or been approved to receive money.
The business grant also changed with the commission’s vote. Small businesses with 25 employees or fewer can now receive up to $15,000 in aid — a $5,000 increase from before.
While the award for small businesses increased, the county reduced business grant funding from $15 million to $5 million because only a few dozen businesses have applied for the grant, Shuping said.
Now, county commissioners are exploring ways to use the leftover money.
The commission also asked staff to reach out to Alachua County Public Schools to find out what resources, like computer or internet access for students, need more funding. Commissioners also instructed staff to research implementing an eviction and homelessness avoidance program with some of the freed grant funding.
The proposed program could assist residents who will be evicted and don’t have the resources to find housing, Shuping said. The program could prevent 500 to 1,000 evictions.
County staff will present the information during an Oct. 1 county meeting where the commission will make a final decision about the $10 million in excess funds.