Maricopa County has bolstered its support for residents who are struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic with new CARES Act funding allocations to local non-profit organizations and food banks, as well as funding increases to programs for rental assistance and utility bill assistance.
Support for non-profit social service agencies
Recognizing the significant negative impact of the pandemic on local human services organizations that provide basic essential services to those in the need, the Board of Supervisors on Sept. 16 approved $5 million in funding to support non-profit social service agencies. Administered by the Arizona Community Foundation, the funds will provide between 25 and 200 grants with awards ranging from $25,000 to $200,000 each.
Funding for food banks
To support food banks who are experiencing increased demand from residents due to financial hardships caused by the pandemic, the County has allocated $3 million to the non-profit Arizona Food Bank Network. From those funds, the Network will administer small and large grants to St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance, United Food Bank and Desert Mission Food Bank and their community partners.
“By working with our valued partners at the Arizona Community Foundation and the Arizona Food Bank Network, who have the necessary experience and expertise, we are able to quickly deliver funding to support critical services that many families in our community need right now,” said Bruce Liggett, director of Maricopa County Human Services Department.
Additional details about food bank and non-profit assistance can be found at maricopa.gov/COVIDCommunityHelp.
Several adjustments have been made to the COVID Crisis Rental Assistance program in order to better serve residents. The 3-month limit on assistance has been removed so families can potentially qualify for rent payments dating back to March. There is also less documentation required, further streamlining the application process.
Program administrators also noticed a substantial number of applications coming from Mesa, which was not previously served by the COVID Crisis Rental Assistance program. To meet the need, the Board of Supervisors allocated $6.25 million of CARES Act funding to bring rental assistance to Mesa. Now, individual households in Mesa can apply to receive $1,500 per month for each month of rent owed. Mesa residents can get more information at mesaaz.gov/government/mesa-cares
So far, the COVID Crisis Rental Assistance program has provided help to more than 1,700 households for a combined 3,625 months (or $5.4 million) of paid rent since it began in mid-July.
Residents across the County can check eligibility, apply for assistance and upload documents at maricopa.gov/COVIDRentHelp, or they can apply at their local Community Action Program office.
Assistance for utility bill payments
To help residents who are unable to keep up with their gas and electric bills due to the pandemic, the Board of Supervisors allocated $6 million of CARES Act funding for utility assistance, which is administered through local community action programs. Eligible applicants will be provided up to $1,000 per household. Details on eligibility requirements and how to apply are available at maricopa.gov/CovidUtilityHelp.
Maricopa County received $399 million from the U.S. Treasury as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). The purpose of this money is to cover expenditures related to the public health emergency that were not already included in fiscal year 2020 budget. Since then, County departments and partners have jumped into action, making a significant difference in combating the virus and addressing the economic fallout from it.