Fairfield selectmen look to aid non-profits, small businesses with HUD coronavirus funds
FAIRFIELD — The Board of Selectman voted to accept an additional $306,842 in federal funding during its Monday meeting.
The funding from a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant is to be used to support businesses and non-profits impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Mark Barnhart, the director of the town’s Office of Community and Economic Development, said the town receives money from the block grant each year but, in light of the pandemic, HUD has allocated more funding for municipalities. He the funding can only be used to fund things that will help the town prevent, prepare for and respond to the pandemic.
“They also need to meet the requirements of the CDBG program,” he said. “Namely, that they meet a national objective and that they fund eligible activities under CBDG.”
Barnhart said his department put out a notice of funding to other municipal departments and community partners and received a number of applications.
Barnhart recommended the board favorably consider the town’s Department of Human and Social Services, which requested requested $19,666; Operation Hope, $25,000; Jewish Senior Services, $7,982; and the Fairfield Department Community and Economic Development, $254,194.
Barnhart said the funding would be used to provide personal protective equipment and direct financial assistance, in the form of mini grants, to businesses impacted by the pandemic.
Barnhart said the mini grants would be given to small businesses with five or fewer employees as well as businesses that have been largely unable to access other forms of assistance.
Selectman Tom Flynn asked Barnhart how the mini grants would be administered and given out. Barnhart said it would be similar to his department’s normal micro-enterprize support and they would be expanding on that with a new application form for impacted businesses.
“They would have to be eligible business entities located in the town of Fairfield, employ five or fewer people and be able to demonstrate some adverse impact through the pandemic,” he said. “(The businesses) would have to give us some justification on how they propose to use the funds.”
Barnhart said the max amount of funding the department would give to a business would be $5,000. He said he anticipates most grants would be in the range of $1,000 to $2,000.
The board voted unanimously to approve the resolution. It must also be voted on by the Representative Town Meeting.