Anchorage Assembly passes COVID relief package for small businesses, nonprofits and housing

The Anchorage Assembly chambers at the Z. J. Loussac Public Library in Anchorage.
The Anchorage Assembly chambers at the Z. J. Loussac Public Library in Anchorage. (Staff photo)

The Anchorage Assembly unanimously passed a $21.5 million COVID-19 relief package at a meeting Tuesday evening. The package provides a second round of funding for the small business and nonprofit relief program and the rental and mortgage assistance program. 

The sponsors of the package, including Mayor Ethan Berkowitz and Assembly members Christopher Constant, Austin Quinn-Davidson and Meg Zaletel, wrote that additional funding for small business grants would help bridge the gaps in federal and state relief programs. The $1 million pilot version of the program launched last month and received over 700 applications. Tuesday’s package adds 5 million dollars to the program. 

An additional $2 million was approved for housing assistance. The rental and mortgage assistance program was also initially funded $1 million and received hundreds of applicants within days of launching.

The relief package also establishes a $10 million fund for child care providers and a $3 million jobs initiative centered around parks and trail maintenance projects. 

As part of the package, the Assembly also approved a $1.5 million fund for the Berkowitz administration to use for quick emergency response. The additional funding for the administration was initially set at $3 million, but after some Assembly discussion and an amendment proposed by Zaletel, it was cut in half. The mayor can use that money to respond immediately to a COVID-19-related crisis without having to go through the Assembly first.