EDMONDS — Months after the coronavirus pandemic hit Snohomish County, eligible Edmonds residents can apply for aid from the city.
In April, the city council approved shifting $100,000 to a new coronavirus relief fund. Now two nonprofits will use those dollars to doll out services like rent, utility or medical payments, as well as grocery or gas cards, for up to $1,000 per qualifying household. City leaders could add $300,000 of federal CARES Act dollars to the fund Tuesday. The council is also considering using hundreds of thousands of federal CARES Act dollars for small-business grants.
“Finally, we’re there,” said Councilmember Luke Distelhorst, who introduced the residential aid program in April. “Obviously, a process like this takes time from an administrative standpoint, but I’m happy we acted early. If we started now, people may not be getting assistance until August.”
Edmonds residents seeking city aid must earn less than 60% of the county’s median household income. That’s $67,262 for a five-person household, $62,280 for four, $56,052 for three, $49,824 for two and $43,596 for a person living alone.
To apply, visit www.wellspringfs.org/edmonds.
Applications are due on Thursday. The city hopes payments will reach landlords, service providers or residents in early July.
“We will do everything possible to help meet rent payment obligations in July with this first round,” said Patrick Doherty, the city’s economic development director.
It’s unclear if there will be another round of applications next month.
The money for the residential relief program comes from a $225,000 homelessness response fund. When the city council approved the transfer in April, members opted to gauge the program’s effectiveness by giving the nonprofits access to the $100,000 through three monthly installments of $33,000 each, instead of the entire amount at once.
For June, there will likely be more applicants than the city can assist with the first wave of funding.
“They are expecting the need to be overwhelming,” Distelhorst said. “I think that’s telling of the needs we have in our community.”
The council is expected to vote Tuesday on adding $300,000 from the federal CARES Act to the fund, on top of another $50,000 from a different city program. Council members could also decide to use the remaining $67,000 in the relief fund earlier than they planned, Distelhorst said.
“It is going to continue to be a long process,” he said. “Even going into Phase 2, it’s definitely not going to make people whole. People could just be getting deeper and deeper into the whole.”
The city could also vote to use $700,000 from the federal CARES Act to help local businesses impacted by the pandemic.
The proposal by Mayor Mike Nelson would help businesses in the retail, restaurant, personal service or entertainment industries which employ two to 30 people and have lost at least 30% of revenue since April or May, have been operating for at least one year and aren’t already receiving grants from the state or county.
Accepted applicants could receive up to $10,000.
Shops owned by people of color, women, veterans or other minority groups would be given greater consideration.
The city council could vote on the proposal Tuesday.
If approved, the city would also use $265,000 in federal dollars to cover other virus-related costs, which include extra custodial staff to clean public buildings when they reopen, parks security and maintenance, protective masks and other gear for city staff, new signage and portable restroom rentals.
For the residential relief program, the city spent the month of May vetting nonprofits to act as a middle man between the city and residents seeking aid, eventually selecting Wellspring Family Services and Washington Kids in Transition.
Based in Seattle, Wellspring Family Services has worked with families experiencing crises since 1892, according to the nonprofit’s website. The organization’s president and chief operating officer both live in Edmonds, the city said in a news release.
Washington Kids in Transition provides housing assistance, food, household supplies and other aid to families experiencing or facing homelessness, including some in the Edmonds School District.
“At a time like this, it is good to know that there are people who care,” Wellspring President Heather Fitzpatrick said in the city news release. “Families are facing the fear of homelessness, right now. And there are trustworthy organizations and partnerships that can help them. I count it an honor to be able to partner with the City of Edmonds and Washington Kids in Transition in order to help support Edmonds residents in this time of crisis.”
Wellspring is also taking tax-deductible donations for the resident relief program. Anyone interested can visit www.give.wellspringfs.org/edmonds.