Fairfield selectmen approve nearly $300k COVID relief grant

Simon Weber, 15, of Fairfield gets stuff being dropped off by bicycle at the Boy Scouts' food drive for Operation Hope at its food pantry on Saturday, July 26, 2020, in Fairfield, Conn.

Simon Weber, 15, of Fairfield gets stuff being dropped off by bicycle at the Boy Scouts' food drive for Operation Hope at its food pantry on Saturday, July 26, 2020, in Fairfield, Conn.

Jarret Liotta / Jarret Liotta

FAIRFIELD — The Board of Selectmen recently accepted about $300,000 in federal grants for COVID relief.

Director of Community and Economic Development Mark Barnhart said the new funding came under the provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

“The town does receive funding each year from the Department of Housing and Urban Development through it’s Community Development Block Grant program,” he said. “Earlier this year, the town received notice from HUD that it was receiving an additional $306,000 in supplemental funding to enable the town to prevent and respond to the coronaivrus pandemic.”

Barnhart said the town was notified in the fall that it would receive an additional $297,452 as part of a second round of funding from the CARES Act. The town then asked for applications from those eligible.

“They, like other funding provided under CBDG, do need to meet HUD requirements in terms of satisfying a national objective and be eligible for funding consideration,” Barnhart said. “All the proposed activities that we are recommending for your approval do meet those requirements.”

According to town documents, the grant funding would go to offices and organizations, such as the town’s Department of Human and Social Services, Operation Hope of Fairfield, the Wakeman Boys and Girls Club and the town Health Department.

Uses for the fund vary in scope but are all related to the pandemic. It includes purchasing cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment; providing limited, one-time rent assistance to people or households facing eviction and providing before and after school activities for children.

Grants ranged from $5,000 to $82,000.

Once the town receives notice HUD committed funding, Barnhart said, his office is authorized and allowed to appropriate the money.

“There is no likelihood that these monies would be rescinded by HUD,” he said, confirming the office gets approval before funds are expended. “They have to apply for a specific purpose. We review that to ascertain whether or not it does meet HUD funding requirements. Once we go through this process, and submit it to HUD, HUD then reviews and approves it. We enter into a contract with the agency, and then they can expend the funds for that purpose.”

Barnhart said the town typically fronts the money and then requests reimbursement. While there is a way to request money up front, he said it is easier to do period draw downs of money provided from the federal agency.

The Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to approve the resolution. With the its approval, Barnhart said the proposal would be voted on by the Representative Town Meeting later this month.

Joshua.LaBella@hearstmediact.com