City-County Council approves $76 million in CARES Act spending for Marion County

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INDIANAPOLIS — The City-County Council approved a third and final allocation of CARES Act funding for Marion County during a special meeting Wednesday evening.

Mayor Joe Hogsett went before a special meeting of the City-County Council to unveil the $76 million proposal for Marion County. The funding will deplete the city’s $168 million allocation from Congress. The proposal was passed with a 23-0 vote with 1 abstention and 1 person not submitting a vote.

The money must be in the accounts of the recipient agencies by December 30.

Hogsett’s third round of suggested allocations continues financial assistance for many previously funded programs.

Rental assistance and foreclosure prevention and mortgage refinancing will total $14.5 million in advance of the anticipated expiration of a renters’ eviction moratorium January 1.

Programs to deal with homelessness and hotel housing for those without shelter account for $7.2 million in proposed funding.

Food banks will receive $2.1 million, and Gleaners would receive $750,000.

“For many people over the last six months, this is the first time they’ve needed to access charitable food relief in their lives,” said Joe Slater, CFO & COO of Gleaners. “Before the pandemic, we would distribute somewhere between 600,000 and 750,000 pounds a week. We’ve consistently been at a million and a half pounds a week since the pandemic started.”

Slater said Gleaners was able to expand its food donation system off-site thanks to CARES Act funding.

“Some of that money has already flowed through to reimburse us for costs that we’ve already incurred on those programs, distribution through schools and home delivery and distribution through community centers.”

The hospitality industry would receive $7.5 million in assistance under Phase III spending, with live music venues eligible for a total of $150,000 in financial help.

Government operations, mostly for health and public safety, come in for the lion’s share of the proposal — $30 million — with $7 million earmarked for the Indiana Convention Center, which administration officials indicate has been made COVID safe and has been made available for large gatherings of public safety and health employees as well as a potential meeting site for the Indiana General Assembly and for anticipated conventions once the city’s tourism industry rebounds.

During a briefing on the proposal, administration officials expressed concern that any delay in congressional approval of a second CARES Act would be a financial setback for Indianapolis as it continues to struggle with a pandemic that shows no signs of ending.

Slater said Gleaners depends on the Farm to Families federal assistance program, which has provided 500,000 pounds of donated food per week.

“Depending on if there is continuation of the Farm to Families program, our costs could ramp right back up in a hurry, and we could be in a position early next year to have a funding shortfall.”

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