How Long Beach plans to spend $40M in CARES Act money—and how you may be able to get help

Long Beach residents, nonprofits and business owners can apply for more resources and grants through 23 new programs created with CARES Act funds.

With more than $40 million in federal funds from the CARES Act, Long Beach is now distributing about half to different parts of the community. The other half, more than $19 million, has gone to the city’s COVID-19 response.

City officials released the details of the new programs Tuesday that the City Council approved in July. The programs include a housing condition improvement program, meant to help homeowners and renters with air quality-related issues; food programs; mental health programs; digital inclusion programs, meant to help with digital literacy and access; and business grant programs.

“Sustaining small businesses and community groups through this pandemic is a critical part of our response to COVID-19,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a press release. “This pandemic has devastated small businesses and caused record high unemployment nationwide. It will take federal funding like CARES and strong leadership to guide us through a recovery that lies in our future.”

City officials knew they would be getting the funds in June, so they told city departments to put together detailed memos for each program so the City Council could approve them, according to assistant city manager Linda Tatum.

The programs varied from homeless services to business grants, she said, noting “it was a very wide range.” Most of the programs will be administered by the health department, which has been allocated some additional funding for administration costs, Tatum said. Rolling out 23 programs, she said, has been a monumental process.

Interested residents can fill out a form on the city website or call the city’s information line at 562-570-4636 and their information will be given to the staff who are managing the program needed. If the program hasn’t started yet because there is no vendor, they will be notified once it does, Tatum said.

The new programs include:

  • $4.1 million for grants for small businesses. The grants are for up to $5,000 for working capital and up to $2,000 for touchless technology upgrades. The grants also come with a “digital navigator” who would give technical assistance to those not as familiar with technology.
  • $1 million for grants for Business Improvement District associations. The grants will range from about $86,000 to $114,000 for each association, depending on how many businesses are in it. “It will enable BIDs to maintain service levels for core programming, business assistance, and marketing and promotions,” according to the city memo.
  • $500,000 for housing condition improvements in things that exacerbate COVID-19 symptoms, like low air ventilation, water intrusion, mold, and old carpeting. Tatum said the program is available to home owners and renters, but renters would have to get the consent of landlords before work can be done.
  • $100,000 for small business education
  • $1 million for digital inclusion, which will contract with community organizations to provide Chromebooks and hotspots. This program still needs vendors.
  • $200,000 for an economic equity study in partnership with Cal State Long Beach researchers to help determine what policies the city will need to recover.
  • $1.5 million in grants to arts organizations
  • $200,000 for grants to nonprofits that are experiencing hardships

These programs are still waiting on vendors and will come online within two or three weeks:

  • $400,000 for a basic needs centralized information line to connect older adults to resources and services. The city wants to expand the model for helping people access more services, like food, housing, insurance and medical supplies.
  • $3 million to expand food insecurity programs, like the Great Plates Delivered program, to provide large meal distributions and targeted meal delivery.
  • $1 million for a Black health equity program that requires contracting with medical providers and community partners to provide gap healthcare services.
  • $500,000 for older adult support services
  • $500,000 for a mental health and domestic violence prevention taskforce of local mental health agencies to improve access, awareness and treatment.
  • $500,000 for public health case management support for improving technology infrastructure to help with data.
  • $1 million for early childhood support that would purchase supplies and expand early childhood education spaces for physical distancing requirements and give grants to providers.
  • $800,000 for nonprofit support services, which would assist them with grants for them to “design and implement engagement strategies that provide direct access to hard-to-reach communities in Long Beach for various CARES Act programs.”
  • $500,000 for youth programming, creating “community learning hubs” what elementary and middle schoolers can participate in daily online and after-school. It will also offer mobile recreation in park-poor neighborhoods for exercise and peer connection.

The programs that were already underway include:

  • $2 million for the homeless shelters, including for Project Room Key
  • $1 million for the youth leadership and ambassador program, which trains youth workers from low-to-moderate income communities to work at parks and beaches.
  • $300,000 for the Open Streets initiative, which turns street parking areas into parklets that allow businesses space for outdoor services.
  • $150,000 for a business call center
  • $150,000 for a business Economic Inclusion Coordinator, who is responsible for the city’s economic and digital inclusion initiatives
  • $750,000 for small business and nonprofit personal protective equipment distribution

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Valerie Osier is a breaking news and crime reporter for the Long Beach Post. She’s a Riverside native who found her love for journalism while at community college. She graduated from the Cal State Long Beach journalism program in 2017 and covered the Palos Verdes Peninsula for the Daily Breeze prior to coming to the Post. She lives in Long Beach with her husband and two cats.
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