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Some Anchorage relief programs closing, others reopening with additional funding

 Anchorage City Hall
Anchorage City Hall (KTUU)
Published: Dec. 13, 2020 at 9:42 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The application period for two Municipality of Anchorage relief programs are set to end Sunday night, while others are set to reopen in the coming weeks following the passage of a $15.4 million relief package by the Anchorage Assembly as well as other previous allocations.

Chris Schutte, director of the municipality’s Office of Economic and Community Development said that as of Sunday afternoon, the grant program for businesses in the hospitality industry without liquor licenses was not yet oversubscribed, but that the window to apply would close at midnight.

“We really are encouraging and reaching deep into the community to encourage as many of these businesses as possible to apply,” he said.

Also closing Sunday night is the basic-needs voucher program. Applicants who are accepted receive gift cards for items such as groceries, medicine, or gas. Both can be accessed through the municipality’s coronavirus response dashboard.

As those programs close their application periods, though, Schutte said others will be opening up soon. The rent and mortgage assistance program has received another round of funding, as has the small business stabilization grant program. The application period for small business grants opens Friday, but many Anchorage businesses who applied previously will be automatically registered.

“We can take all of the applicants that were eligible, but not selected in round two, and automatically enter them into the random selection process for round three,” Schutte said.

In the pool of money for this round, Schutte said $5 million will go towards grants for those previous applicants, with the $2 million going to new applicants. He also warned it was likely not everyone previously accepted would receive a grant this time around, as it was already oversubscribed.

“There’s probably about $9.5 to $10 million of need based on those numbers alone, but there’s only $5 million available,” he said.

New businesses able to register for the grants will also include many that didn’t meet requirements during the previous rounds. Limits on franchises and employee numbers have been removed, and the maximum gross revenue in 2019 for businesses has been raised from $1 million to $2 million.

New businesses able to register for the grants will also include many that didn’t meet requirements during the previous rounds. Limits on employee numbers have been removed, and the maximum gross revenue in 2019 for businesses has been raised from $1 million to $2 million. Franchises will also be able to apply for grants form an additional pool.

“Of course, there’s been conversations over the past week on a couple of different relief packages,” he said. “We would love to see those relief packages go from conversations to actual legislation that the President can sign.”

The municipality has faced criticism over its previous allocations of coronavirus relief funds, mainly its proposal to purchase three buildings for homeless services, as well as a public lands jobs program that hired workers to clear beetle-kill spruce trees and improve Anchorage trails. Opponents have argued those funds should’ve gone towards additional business relief, but Schutte pointed out that Anchorage is not alone in running low on relief funds as the year draws to a close.

“Every community is experiencing similar situations where the relief packages that Congress approved through the CARES Act that flow through states to individual cities and communities is just not enough to accommodate the long lasting economic impacts of COVID-19 and all of the emergency measures that have been put in place across this country,” he said.

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