County to apply for COVID housing grant
The county will hold a public hearing on Aug. 25 regarding a request for a CARES Act Community Block Grant from the Washington State Department of Commerce. The amounts of the grant are $34,904 for the county and $14,135 for the Town of Friday Harbor. If the two entities apply together they will receive an additional $1,000.
While the grant can be used for everything from funding senior service activities to cleaning graffiti, San Juan County Affordable Housing Coordinator Ryan Page said it should be used to provide rental and mortgage assistance to islanders in danger of losing their houses because of the economic effects of COVID-19.
“We feel that using the funds for this activity would be the best and highest use of these funds,” Page told the San Juan County Council during its Aug. 11 meeting. “This is, in our mind, a sort of welcome additional resource that we can now try to, hopefully, fill in the gap and be able to extend that window that will be able to keep some people afloat.”
Page noted that while the three island resource centers were provided money in spring to help with rental assistance, those funds have been exhausted.
The grant would be available for residents who live at 80 percent or below the average median income for San Juan County. Additionally Page noted he would like the funds be available to both renters and homeowners since previous assistance programs were only available to renters.
CARES Act funds to go to local businesses
The San Juan County Economic Council will distribute approximately $150,000 worth of funds to small businesses in the island community. The money is part of the funds received by San Juan County from the CARES Act. In June, the county council chose to put aside $157,000 of the $943,250 CARES Act funds it received for the community. The EDC will use $7,800 of the money to facilitate the grant process.
More information is to come.
The grant is aimed toward San Juan County businesses that have not received previous grants such as from the Payroll Protection Program, and that have fewer than 10 employees. The grant will pay for testing, personal protective equipment, rent, utilities, etc.
The EDC will run the program, creating documents and providing more information to the community.
“Our businesses are going to be fabulously helped by this so thank you for rolling this out the community,” EDC Executive Director Victoria Compton said to the council.