Here’s what nearly $157 million in CARES Act money is funding in Anchorage

Assembly chair Felix Rivera discusses CARES Act allocations at a Monday press conference. (Photo from Mayor Ethan Berkowitz’s Facebook page)

Anchorage will spend a little more than half its CARES Act money on rental and mortgage relief, child care assistance, small business relief and first responder efforts. 

The city received almost $157 million in federal CARES Act money to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Budget planning for the money began in May and last week, the Assembly finalized allocations to a variety of different relief programs.

Assembly chair Felix Rivera spoke at a press conference Monday afternoon.

“While it isn’t enough to help everyone and meet all of the need, it is going to help keep people in their homes, keep people employed, alleviate the burden of some parents by helping out with childcare, allow for a better distribution of food to those in need, and more,” he said.

The city’s first round of CARES Act funding distribution in June focused on businesses, housing, child care and jobs programs. The comprehensive plan includes other uses, like supporting arts and culture institutions and mental health assistance. 

The Assembly also approved several jobs programs to provide work for people who are underemployed or out of work. Jobs include trail maintenance, weatherizing homes and installing energy efficient infrastructure. 

There is also a $16 million contingency fund that the Assembly could use to help the community if the pandemic worsens in the fall.

The city still needs to meet with the U.S. Treasury Department after the department’s inspector general received complaints about how the money would be allocated. Several programs are on hold until then, including property purchases for treatment and homelessness resources. But Mayor Ethan Berkowitz says he doesn’t think there will be any issues with the current plan.

“Cities across the United States have similarly spent monies in the way that we’re spending it here. So we are extremely confident that the appropriations that the assembly authorized are lawful, proper and as Congress intended.”

The city is waiting to hear back from the Treasury Department for guidance after a meeting with the inspector general last week.

Read the full list of CARES Act distributions here.

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Kavitha George is the host of Alaska Morning News at Alaska Public Media. She also reports on business, labor and the economy. Reach her at kgeorge@alaskapublic.org.

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