The Hood River City Council directed $195,000 in CARES Act funding to local partners that aid social services agencies, business organizations and individuals economically impacted by COVID-19.

The city was allocated a total of $299,633 in COVID-19 relief funds last spring. It has been used for outdoor fencing, signage, personal protective equipment, public communications, spring break lunches for area low-income families, and building remote work capabilities to keep municipal operations running in a socially distanced manner. The $195,000 balance of that apportionment was authorized for community aid in a Resolution passed by city council in August. The balance of CARES Act funding must be used by Dec. 30.  

City council deliberated and chose to target funding to specific sectors and needs, including aid to social services organizations, utility assistance for individuals, childcare assistance, emergency support to the Chamber of Commerce, and services for people experiencing homelessness, according to a press release.

“Hood River is blessed with an infrastructure of established community aid agencies that the city can tap into to disburse these federal assistance dollars. Working in partnership with these entities was key to getting aid out as quickly and efficiently as possible,” said Will Norris, assistant city manager/finance director. 

The City of Hood River will allocate the $195,000 CARES Act funds as follows:

United Way Community Response Fund — $70,000

The COVID-19 Community Response Fund was developed through a partnership of the Healthy Gorge Initiative and the United Way-Columbia Gorge to assist non-profit partners in supporting vulnerable individuals in the community. Grant applications and eligibility requirements are available at Healthy Gorge Initiative’s website gorgeimpact.com while more information about this fund is at unitedwaycolumbiagorge.org. Applications are reviewed weekly by a United Way committee, processed by Healthy Gorge Initiative, and will continue to be awarded while funds are available.

“What’s distinct about response funds received by the City of Hood River is that priority is given to organizations that serve Hood River residents with the intention of keeping important non-profits viable during these difficult times,” explained Paul Lindberg of Healthy Gorge Initiative.

The United Way Community Response Fund has been helping non-profits since spring of 2020. The City of Hood River’s allocation of CARES Act dollars brings the fund total close to $400,000.

• Homelessness Relief — $45,000 

City council dedicated funding to help people experiencing homelessness. The State’s COVID-19 health and safety guidelines has made Hood River Shelter Services winter warming shelter’s latest location at Riverside Church unworkable. For the past 10 years, shelter and meals have been provided from mid-November through mid-March. These funds from the City of Hood River will allow Hood River Shelter Services to provide non-congregate warming shelter services during the coming winter. For more information, contact director@hoodrivercares.org.

• Mid-Columbia Community Action Council, Individual Utility Assistance — $40,000

For those experiencing difficulty with basic living expenses related to COVID-19, relief can be requested in the amount of $300 per household for utilities costs to cover electricity, natural or propane gas, water-sewer and/or internet. This program, administered by the Mid-Columbia Community Action Council (MCCAC), can be accessed by phoning 541-386-4027, ext. 310. Only residents of Hood River are eligible for city funding; however, MCCAC offers other relief funds to households outside Hood River. Those who have received prior relief from MCCAC can apply by providing information on how they’ve been impacted by COVID-19 with copies of recent bills. If households have not been helped by MCCAC before, additional documentation is required, including identification, a valid Social Security number and income records.

• Child Care Partners — $25,000

The city is contracting with Child Care Partners, a local child care resource, referral and training agency. The organization will be using City CARES Act funds to provide resources and support necessary to help existing Hood River programs reopen or expand, and to recruit new child care providers and programs in the city. Child Care Partners provides COVID-19 resources and has developed FAQs, tools, and guidance for providers and families as well as Emergency Child Care. For more information, visit cgcc.edu/childcare.

• Chamber of Commerce Support — $10,000

A portion of the CARES Act funds will go to the Hood River County Chamber of Commerce to maintain viability and services to local businesses after experiencing severe revenue reductions attributable to COVID-19.

• City of Hood River — $5,000

Continuing COVID-19 related costs incurred by the city. (Past expenditures have included PPE and city hall safety upgrades, and technology for employees to use while working from home.)

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