INDIANAPOLIS — Mayor Joe Hogsett said the congressional CARES Act provided $168 million in COVID-19 recovery funding to Marion County, but it’s still not enough to alleviate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic which will shape municipal, corporate and business budgets for years to come.
“It is clear that these dollars will be helpful but not sufficient,” said Hogsett, hours before he sent a pair of spending ordinances for approval by city-county councilors. “Tonight we will be seeking from the City County Council approval for more than $76 million in programming using the coronavirus relief fund and FEMA disaster programming.”
A significant chunk of the mayor’s funding request will go for offsetting the direct costs of identifying and tracking the path of COVID-19 through Marion County.
“This package includes $20 million in funding for expanded testing and contact tracing,” said Hogsett. “This will insure that even as we take the steps to reopen the economy in our city, Indianapolis will be well positioned in the future to identify outbreaks or resurging issues of COVID-19 challenges and then be able to not only identify but be able to better contain any kind of resurgence.”
Marion County accounts for approximately one-seventh of Indiana’s population but nearly 30% of state’s positive coronavirus cases and deaths.
Hogsett said the federal funds will go toward residents who have suffered financial hardship due to the economic shutdown that accompanied the pandemic in March.
“This package includes $15 million in direct funding to provide rent relief for those who have seen their livelihood impacted by COVID-19,” said the mayor. “In partnership with community partners, these dollars will be accessible through community centers across the county and matched by township trustee dollars if those offices choose to participate.”
Deputy Mayor Jeff Bennett explained, “What we’ll roll out a little bit later this month in time to cut checks for landlords in time for July 1st rent is an on-line application process.
“Families that have been affected by COVID who’ve experience job loss or reduction in work hours or increased expenses because they’ve had to pay medical bills because they’ve gotten sick with COVID will be eligible to apply for assistance back rent, or forward rent, so back rent essentially to April 1st but forward rent for a total of up to ninety days and any resident in the community regardless of status can apply for this assistance.”
Bennett said those rent relief checks will be processed through community centers and sent directly to landlords.
Hogsett said funding will also go toward paying for Personal Protection Equipment.
“This includes final approval of our previously announced $5 million restart program through the Indy Chamber for PPE reimbursement as well an additional $5 million in small business grants in partnership with the state of Indiana.”
The mayor has already affixed his signature to a council resolution declaring racism a public health crisis in Indianapolis.
Hogsett also offered his strongest public support thus far to IMPD regarding its response to the racial injustice protests that began ten days ago.
“I want to begin by acknowledging the weekend of peaceful protest that we saw across our city this past weekend and to offer my heartfelt thanks to the organizers of the attendees of these events as well as my deep gratitude to the men and women of IMPD and our other public safety agencies who worked very hard to keep those events safe.”