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Half of the one-time payment of $40 million in CARES Act money to Long Beach was key in balancing the city's budget.

Now city officials are ready to start spreading the other $20 million out amongst nonprofits, service providers and businesses impact by the coronavirus pandemic. A release last week defined how much is going where, and how it will be decided who gets money. Some of the programs are rolling out this week.

The money, actually $40.28 million, comes from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. It had to come through the state, though, because Long Beach is below the 500,000 population threshold to get money directly from the federal government.

At its July 14 meeting, the City Council approved what it called a comprehensive, equity-based spending plan for the money. It was split up with the city's COVID-19 response receiving $19,130,494; various types of community Support getting $14,400,000; and $6,750,000 set aside for business recovery and resiliency.

The $19 million plus for city costs was part of the balanced budget the council passed at its Sept. 8 meeting. The funding plan for the rest of the money also was released on Sept. 8.

All new programs were developed using an "equity lens" to be sure most of the help goes to areas most impacted by COVID and the impacts of coronavirus shutdown/stay at home orders. Those are primarily areas with Black and Latino populations and business owners — the central, west and north parts of the city.

That can be seen in the criteria for distribution of $4.1 million of working capital grants ($5,000) and coronavirus created expenses such as contactless pay points ($2,000).

"Priority will be given to: Businesses that have laid off or furloughed employees. Small business owners. Diverse small businesses located in low-to-moderate income areas."

Another $1 million of the money will go directly to Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) such as the Belmont Shore Business Association, the Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association and the Fourth Street Business Improvement Association, among others. That money is supposed to help business associations provide services to the business owners in the district impacted by COVID-19 — which is just about everyone.

Another $1 million will go to supplement "the City’s Digital Inclusion Initiative, focusing on ensuring everyone in Long Beach has equitable access to and use of digital literacy training, the Internet, technology devices and other resources." Part of that money will contract with community organization to help staff a hotline, distribute free Chromebooks and hotspots and provide technical help.

One group of organizations, the arts and culture community has been holding its collective breath waiting for this money distribution blueprint. Arts organizations now can figure approximately how much help they will be receiving.

A total of $1.5 million will be distributed through the Arts Council for Long Beach for working capital and arts education, based on the individual organization's annual budget. That is how Percent for Art and Measure B money from the city is distributed as well.

The biggest single chunk of money — $2 million — will go to homeless housing and services, including the soon-to-open year-round shelter and the Multi-Service Center.

Youth development is a focus, again through an equity lens, with $1 million set aside for outreach, education and job training, primarily in low- to moderate-income communities.

Another 10 programs still are in development, with funding ranging from $3 million for food insecurity and meals to $400,000 for support of a "basic needs warm line" expanding the city's COVID-19 community hotline (562-570-INFO).

People can apply for those programs already in place and to get their name on lists for programs still being developed at the city's CARES Act website, www.longbeach.gov/citymanager/cares-act-coronavirus-relief-fund/.

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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