“We know that many of our residents continue to struggle due to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19,” said Dr. Valerie A. Arkoosh, Chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners. “With a new round of Federal funding, we are hopeful that we will be able to launch additional assistance programs to residents most in need and help lay the groundwork for a robust economic recovery in 2021.”
“As the pandemic continues to wear on, we remain committed to making sure we do everything we can to assist our impacted residents and businesses,” said Kenneth E. Lawrence, Jr., Vice Chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners. “Additional funding will be distributed soon through the second round of the Montco Strong 2021 Restaurant Program, and we plan to allocate more funding as we continue to evaluate the impacts on our local economy.”
CARES Act spending in Montgomery County was distributed through three major program areas:
- Economic and Community Assistance – funding includes assisting businesses, not-for-profit entities, childcare centers, educational entities, food pantries and residents in need of a rent/utility assistance.
- Emergency Response and Public Health – funding includes public safety and public health initiatives mitigating and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic including testing, contact tracing, sheltering for the homeless, special human health services programs, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and preparation for the vaccination period.
- County Operations – primarily personnel costs for staff substantially dedicated to responding to the public health emergency. In addition, PPE, public health and public safety equipment, facility upgrades and HVAC improvements, information technology improvements and other operational costs directly relating to COVID-19 needs.
Montgomery County implemented ten major CARES Act programs to assist the community and businesses with recovery efforts in 2020, including:
- The Montco Strong Small Business Grant Program with over 6,000 applications received, provided 1,440 small business relief grants up to $25,000 across most business sectors – distributed a total of $16 million over three separate program rounds.
- The Montco Cares Grant Program provided over 300 child-care centers with grants up to $48,000 depending on number of children served and over 200 children qualifying for a $40 per day child-care subsidy.
- $15 million of funding was provided to 23 Montgomery County Public School Districts to help with COVID-19 costs, modifying teaching methods and providing protective measures.
- The County’s Housing Department distributed $4.5 million in rent and utility relief to over 1,000 households that qualified for rent and utility assistance of up to $1,500 per month in Montgomery County. In addition, the Pennsylvania Housing Financing Agency (PHFA) Rent Relief Program (administered by the County) distributed $1.8 million of rent relief to 545 households in Montgomery County.
- To support nonprofit groups and help them continue the work they do every day, $5 million was provided for the Montco Strong Nonprofit Resiliency and Restoration Grant Program.
- The Montco Food Panty Assistance Program provided $2 million in assistance to the County’s food assistance and pantry network to provide food security for an estimated 160,000 County residents impacted by COVID-19.
- The Make It Main Street Marketing Initiative provided $300,000 of funding to the Valley Forge Tourism Bureau to lead marketing efforts to restart business activity and reinvigorate communities in Montgomery County and focus on recovery of small businesses and local communities.
- The County provided a $500,000 grant to the Elmwood Park Zoo, a major driver of tourism in the Valley Forge area.
- With the highest number of manufacturing businesses of any Pennsylvania County, the Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) has provided significant educational programming to train and place students with these businesses, $1.1 million of funding was provided to MCCC.
- The Food Security and Workforce Development Program provided $1 million of funding to the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and YWCA Tri-County Area. These two organizations, in partnership with the County Departments of Commerce and Human Health Services have developed a program to alleviate food insecurity for families while improving employment skills.
On March 27, 2020 Congress passed and the president signed the CARES Act, which established a new $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) for state, county and municipal governments with populations of over 500,000 people to address necessary expenditures incurred due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.