CALEXICO — The City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved two resolutions authorizing financial assistance for both businesses and residents impacted by COVID-19.
For businesses and non-profits, the city has committed $150,000 toward a business stabilization lending program that could provide up to $7,500 to eligible businesses on a first-come, first-served basis.
Similarly, the city has authorized the use of about $171,000 to provide up to $1,100 in utility assistance for low-income residents who can demonstrate financial hardship as a result of the pandemic.
The funds are part of about $504,000 in state funds that the city had previously been awarded in July in response to the pandemic, said City Manager Miguel Figueroa during last week’s council meeting.
Figueroa estimated the business loans could help up to 20 local businesses and non-profits, depending on the amount of money the applicants request.
The loans may also be fully forgivable if applicants are able to meet certain employee retention requirements.
“We don’t want to place the burden on businesses that have to pay back money that they’re going to use to revamp their business,” Figueroa said.
In order to qualify for loan forgiveness, a participating business must prove that it has maintained or hired back the number, or hourly equivalent, of workers it originally had employed in mid-March, when the federal government issued an emergency declaration related to COVID-19.
For each full-time employee, or equivalent, that has not been rehired or replaced, the amount of the loan that will be forgiven will decreased by 20 percent, according to the staff report prepared for the resolution.
The loan program’s application period began Monday. Businesses and non-profits that have been operating in the city as of Dec. 31, have a valid business license and are in good standing with the city are eligible to apply.
Applicants can expect a decision within five business days after they submit a complete application. Funding is anticipated to be released within two weeks of approval, city officials said.
“We know the business community has been waiting and is in dire need of this money,” Figueroa said.
During its regular meeting Wednesday, the council also approved a resolution authorizing the use of $171,000 in Community Development Block Grants to go toward impacted resident’s water, electricity and gas payments.
Specifically, the CDBG funds could potentially provide up to $700 in electricity, $300 in water and $100 in gas payments for eligible low-income residents who have delinquent accounts.
“This is something that we believe is in the best interest to offer our community,” Figueroa told the council.
To determine eligibility, the city would examine a household’s annual income over a 12-month period. The city would make the payments directly to the service providers and assistance would be provided for up to 90 days.
Information and program applications can be accessed at the city’s website, by clicking on its “COVID-19 information” link. Depending on one’s web browser, the loan program application and guidelines may need to be accessed by clicking on the “Menu” tab on the webpage.
As of Monday afternoon, the city had scheduled 11 appointments with interested businesses that have applied for the loan program, and met with two.