Interim Communications Program Manager
KIRKLAND, Wash. – Over the past several months, the City of Kirkland has distributed over $2.6 million in CARES Act funds, including $1.22 million to human service organizations, $1.1 million to small businesses, and $300,000 to arts and culture programs. The Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress in March. The funding is intended to provide financial assistance for sectors of the community that are facing economic hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID-19 has impacted Kirkland residents who are particularly vulnerable to economic instability, and it’s often human service organizations that provide critical lifelines in a crisis,” said Kirkland City Councilmember Toby Nixon. “With the CARES Act funding, the City has been able to offer more extensive rental, mortgage and utility assistance as well as outreach and cultural navigation services to ensure that populations who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 receive access to the resources they need.”
The funding has also made it possible for human service organizations to provide access to much needed day services for women and families experiencing homelessness; expanded the capacity of local agencies to provide scholarships to day camps; and increased access to food and basic supplies for residents who need them. The City has also helped stabilize agencies by covering some of the unexpected expenses related to COVID-19.
Last month, the City of Kirkland began distributing $5,000 grants through the Kirkland CARES Small Business Relief Fund to small businesses and nonprofits. The City received over 280 applications in August and September. Though the program was originally designed to provide funding for 150 small businesses, the City is utilizing a second allocation from Washington State to strive to fund all applicants that met the eligibility requirements.
The community’s safety and well-being is the City of Kirkland’s top priority. The City’s leadership and staff have actively sought ways to protect and support residents and businesses since the first reported death related to COVID-19 in the US occurred in Kirkland on February 29, 2020. In addition to distributing CARES Act grants, collaboration between the City of Kirkland, Google, Greater Kirkland Chamber of Commerce, and Banner Bank in March led to the creation of the Kirkland Small Business Relief Fund to provide immediate grants to qualifying small businesses and nonprofits. Earlier this year, the City Council adopted the Human Services Stabilization Fund that provided grants to providers of emergency shelter and day center services, food, rental assistance and behavioral health. The preliminary 2021-2022 City Budget, currently under consideration, allocates significant funding for housing and human services, and the City has recently launched ShopLocalKirkland.com, an initiative to assist Kirkland businesses with recovery as well as help them take vital steps toward digital transformation so they can reach and transact with customers in the future.
“Many of Kirkland’s small businesses have suffered dramatic declines in revenue,” said Kirkland Councilmember Jon Pascal. “People have lost livelihoods and are struggling to make ends meet. The CARES Act funds are just one way we are trying to bridge financial gaps in the community, and we’ll continue to look for meaningful and innovative ways to support the community through this challenging time.”
In addition to distributing CARES Act funds to human service organizations and businesses, the City also distributed $300,000 in CARES Act funds to arts organizations including the Kirkland Performance Center, the Kirkland Arts Center and Studio East. The pandemic has been devastating for arts organizations, forcing layoffs and in some cases, potentially permanent closures.
“The arts contribute to both the economy and quality of life,” said Deputy Mayor Jay Arnold. “It’s vital that we sustain arts organizations now so the vibrancy and public value that they provide can continue to benefit the Kirkland community into the future.”
For more information about resources for those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit the City’s website.