Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett’s administration will Monday night go before the Indianapolis City-County Council seeking nearly $80 million in federal funding to be earmarked for COVID-19 pandemic response and recovery expenses.
A majority of the appropriation request would come from the $168 million the city has received from the CARES Act.
“But when you consider the scope and scale of what our city continues to confront as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s clear these dollars will be helpful but not sufficient,” said Hogsett.
Mayor Hogsett said $76 million would come from the federal CARES Act, while another $3.2 million could come from the Federal Emergency and Management Administration.
The administration said $20 million would be used for the expansion of COVID-19 testing and contact tracing in Marion County.
“Indianapolis will be positioned in the future to identify outbreaks or reoccurring issues of COVID-19 challenges…not only to identify but contain any resurgence,” Hogsett said.
Another $15 million would be used for rental assistance for Indianapolis and county residents who are struggling to pay rent because of the healthcare crisis.
“The eligibility criteria are a very low bar,” said Jeff Bennett, deputy mayor of community development. “It’s job loss, or reduction of hours, which has led to loss of income.”
Bennett said specifics are still being worked out, but funding would cover up to 90 days of rent payments. The money would be allocated through community partners.
“These dollars will be accessible by community centers across the county and matched by trustee dollars to those who choose to participate,” said Hogsett.
The mayor also announced Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc. is committing up to $10 million to the city to support basic needs components.
“The endowment will provide valuable operating support to community centers and select other organizations that are working to comprehensively help those in need,” Hogsett said.
The administration said not all of the money would be used immediately as some of the money for testing, for example, will be held back in the event of a second outbreak of the virus.
“We believe one of the most significant impacts COVID-19 will have on the city this year and years to come will be expenses not included in calendar year 2020, and revenue losses not included in calendar 20202,” said Thomas Cook, chief deputy mayor. “The mayor has urged us to be thoughtful and deliberative in holding back funding to the greatest extent possible until Congress acts in July.”
That is when lawmakers in Washington are expected to address whether a new round of emergency funding will be made available.
“That’s why we advocate our (Congressional) delegation to include in future legislation, additional relief funding and additional flexibility to permit the city to weather a fiscal storm that’ll likely stretch years into the future,” said Hogsett.
In addition to virus testing and rental assistance, the proposed fiscal ordinance also includes funding for aid for small businesses, PPE for non-profits, face coverings for Marion County residents, and technology to support and modernize government services.
Indianapolis Deputy Mayor of Community Development Jeff Bennett explains the proposed use of money for rental assistance.