EDITORIAL: Attend forums to get technical assistance on covid relief funds

Downtown Schenectady
Downtown Schenectady

Three weeks.

That’s how much time Schenectady residents, businesses and groups have to apply for more than $26 million in federal coronavirus funds through the American Rescue Plan Act.

And if you screw up the application because you didn’t understand the format or didn’t know how to fill out the application or had some other technical issue, you risk being shut out because you won’t have much time to fix a bad application.

That’s why it’s vitally important for anyone who’s interested in seeking grants to participate in one of two technical assistance sessions being offered online Wednesday by the city of Schenectady to help applicants understand and complete the process.

The technical sessions will be held via WebEx from 11 a.m. to noon and 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday. Instructions on how to sign in to the sessions, including passwords, are available on the city’s website, https://www.cityofschenectady.com/681/American-Rescue-Plan-Act-ARPA.

The city will receive a total of $52.97 million in relief aid. It already received half the funds in May, about $26.5 million, and will receive the second half in May of 2022.

City residents should already be familiar with some of the conditions for receiving grants and should have plenty of ideas on how to spend the money. The city held seven community meetings earlier this year, allowing people to share ideas, make appeals for the best use of the funds.

The federal government provides a list eligibility categories, which includes support for covid response efforts to reduce the spread of the virus, replacement of lost revenue for vital public services and job retention, stabilization of households and businesses, and to address systemic economic and public health challenges.

In addition, the city of Schenectady is requesting that applications address one or more of the goals outlined in the city’s five-year master plan for 2020-2024. Included in those goals are projects that support housing opportunities such as affordable housing, building rehab and stabilization of neighborhoods; expansion of economic development and workforce development through projects that help small businesses and nonprofits such as workforce training, technical assistance and work opportunities; and projects that enhance community assets, cultural and recreational initiatives and that create jobs and improve health, safety and education in the city.

More information about the criteria is available on the city’s website.

Potential applicants can also go to the website to familiarize themselves with the actual application form, which includes detailed questions about the type, scope and cost of the project and requires applicants to explain how their project relates to addressing the negative impact of the pandemic and why their project is important in improving the community.

If you’re interested in applying for these grants and want to ensure you understand the process and the instructions, you owe it to yourself to take one hour of your time on Wednesday to join in one of the two forums.

Categories: Editorial, Opinion

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