PITTSFIELD, Mass. – On Friday, Apr.17, Mayor Linda Tyer formally announced the City of Pittsfield COVID-19 Economic Recovery Program, a $1.1 million package of local and federal funding to support residents, small businesses, community organizations, and cultural institutions impacted by the COVID-19 global health crisis.

“I have designed a robust economic recovery program that will help to meet some of the critical financial needs in our city brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. These funds will be put to work right here in Pittsfield and that is extremely good news for many members of our community who are experiencing tremendous financial strain during this very challenging time,” Tyer said.

The Economic Recovery Program includes $789,382 in funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which will be administered through Pittsfield’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).

Director Deanna Ruffer, of the city’s Department of Community Development, also noted the significance of the program and praised the availability of additional CDBG funding for this use.

“My team and I are extremely pleased to have worked on the development of this crucial economic relief program. As my office works closely with residents and local businesses on a daily basis, we recognize and understand just how vital these resources are needed in our city,” Ruffer said.

“For over 40 years, the CDBG program has provided critical resources to the most vulnerable in our community. We are pleased Congress provided additional funding for this program during this time of urgent need throughout our community and we hope that this funding will offer some measure of assistance in the weeks ahead.”

Mayor Tyer noted that “with the support of the City Council, these funds, in the form of grants, could be available in early May to assist Pittsfield families with rent, mortgage, and utility payment.”

The CDBG funding will be supplemented by two local sources of aid generating from Community Preservation Funds and the Small Business Fund.

“I am submitting an emergency request to the Community Preservation Committee for a $100,000 allocation from the Community Preservation Funds to provide rental assistance to Pittsfield families,” Tyer said. “Also, I will dedicate 200,000 dollars from the Small Business Fund to help small businesses with cash flow. Small businesses would be eligible for up to $10,000 in forgivable loans if they commit to retaining or rehiring employees by the end of 2020.”

Eligible homeowners and renters could receive up to three months or a maximum of $5,000 per household to pay a mortgage, rent, or utilities. Berkshire Regional Housing Authority (BRHA) will administer this part of the city’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Program and they are also able to provide mediation and other services to help Pittsfield residents stay in their homes.

Grants of up to 10,000 dollars will be offered to Pittsfield’s small businesses that are in jeopardy of significant losses and even closures. These funds will help small businesses in the city retain and rehire employees, and to help a business modify their operations in order to remain viable throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic recovery.

Another element of the COVID-19 economic recovery plan includes the use of CDBG funds to enhance the vital work of several community service partners that have existing or new programs in place to support the response to the pandemic.

“These community partners are on the front lines helping residents with many of their daily needs. I am pledging support to the Elizabeth Freeman Center in their ongoing fight against sexual assault and domestic violence, UCP of Western Massachusetts, and Elder Services for enhancing and extending their food service programs, as well as to ServiceNet for continue their outstanding service to the homeless during this public health crisis,” the mayor said.

Additional public service funds will be available through a rolling application process to help meet urgent needs as they arise. In addition, grants will be available to cultural institutions for job retention, creation, and programming.

“Cultural institutions are essential to Pittsfield’s economy and to our sense of well-being. They have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and I am proposing funds to help these creative cultural organizations reopen and re-establish their presence and programming in our city,” Tyer said.

For more information, please contact Justine Dodds, 413-499-9368 or email jdodds@cityofpittsfield.org

Photo Caption: Linda Tyer

(press release sent to us from the City of Pittsfield for online and on air use)

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