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City gets $300K to assist renters

Federal CDBG funds to help those at risk of eviction amid COVID-19 pandemic

Altoona has received $305,000 in Community Development Block Grant money from the federal government to help people at risk of eviction because of COVID-19.

The allocation is part of Pennsylvania’s $1.98 billion share of a total of $2 billion in CDBG funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act that was distributed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development on Sept. 11, according to a news release from U.S. Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa., and city CDBG Manager Mary Johnson.

The $2 billion is the third and final round of CDBG funding from the CARES Act, following

$2 billion allocated in March and $1 billion allocated in May, Johnson said.

The city received $966,000 in March, but nothing in May, Johnson said.

The latest funding will provide temporary rental or mortgage assistance for up to six months, according to the city’s Deputy Community Development Director Carl Fischer and Casey.

“We’ll try to get it on the street as quickly as possible,” Fischer said.

As it did with the money that came in March, Fischer’s department likely will invite local social service agencies to solicit proposals for spending the funds, he said.

Blair County Community Action Agency is one such organization, Fisher said.

The proposals would be reviewed by City Council, then approved, he said.

The agencies chosen to administer the funds would sign “sub-recipient” agreements before receiving the money, Fischer said.

Alternatively, the Community Development Department could administer the grant money in-house, he said.

The $966,000 the city received in March was initially allocated for:

* Transforming the former J&J Recycling center on Margaret Avenue into a storage facility for the city’s hazmat team, $238,000.

* Catholic Charities rent and utility assistance, $20,000.

* Salvation Army pandemic economic assistance, $50,000.

* Blair County Community Action community support, $217,000.

* Blair County Community Action rental assistance for the homeless, $83,000.

* Blair County Community Action homeless food delivery, $8,000.

* Altoona Blair County Development Economic Recovery Program, $200,000.

* The Nehemiah Project, providing meals, $51,000.

* Community Development Department program administration, $98,000.

The current round of CARES CDBG funding was directed to states and communities with industries and businesses with high job losses and unemployment, Casey said.

In this latest round, Johnstown received $149,000 and State College $322,000, Casey said.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.

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