Several West Valley organizations are set to receive increased funding after the Peoria City Council authorized the reallocation of unspent federal coronavirus relief funds.
Foundation for Senior Living and Deep Within Rehab Center are expected to receive the new funding, according to Chris Hallett, Peoria’s director of neighborhood and human services. A New Leaf is also expected to eventually receive reallocated funds.
Hallett said this is thanks to a community development block grant, in which unspent federal coronavirus relief funds are being reallocated to different areas of the community that need it most.
“These are federal funds that are allocated based on a national formula that takes poverty, and a lot of factors into play. … Most of it is really dedicated toward capital-type improvements for facilities or nonprofit centers serving the low- to moderate-income population,” Hallett said.
According to city documents, the city of Peoria received a total of $1,466,846 in coronavirus relief funds as part of the CARES Act. These funds had previously been distributed to various organizations and nonprofits.
Hallett said these original organizations were chosen by the city through applications.
Despite being approved by the city council, some of these groups were unable to spend the money, leaving the city of Peoria to determine where else the funds may be needed.
“Some of the nonprofits couldn’t spend them or just came back because one wasn’t going to be able to sustain its own business. Another one wasn’t able to use the funds as intended,” Hallett said.
According to city documents, as a result of this, there was $122,400 left over to be redistributed. Hallett said the city brought this back to the Peoria City Council to reallocate these remaining funds and that they used the existing applications.
“They didn’t go out for a new application,” he said. “They simply went to council for appropriations back to the existing applicant pool.”
Hallett said it was then determined which agencies would receive the funding.
The city council agreed to reallocate $68,000 to Foundation for Senior Living, or FSL, and Peoria is expecting an additional $27,400 to be reallocated to FSL for a total of $95,400. Deep Within Rehab Center will be getting $27,000 reallocated to its organization.
“This CARES money that came in will be focused as well on the rental, mortgage and utility portion,” said Karla Mortimer, program director for FSL.
Mortimer said that FSL has worked to help Peoria residents during the pandemic in multiple different ways, from creating drive-thru food banks to assisting with rent.
She said it has received funding from both the county and city since last year and has used these funds to help residents who need it.
“We focus more on the mortgage and some rental there in Peoria with this money, as well as the utilities, which is water, electric and gas,” Mortimer said.
She said the newly reallocated funds from the city of Peoria will continue to help FSL in providing this type of assistance and that there is still a need in the community for this.
“With this new funding, we have seen all walks of life, and it’s very eye-opening how a pandemic can affect us all and continue to affect us in the aftermath,” Mortimer said. “I have not had my call center slow down at all.”
She said that if anyone is still in need of assistance, funds are available for those who meet certain criteria and can show a COVID-19-related need, such as the loss of a job, reduction in hours, or day care costs with children being out of school.
She said anyone with questions or in need of assistance can call FSL at 623-979-3570 ext. 405.
Hallett said that although the council approved the redistribution of funds to these organizations, there is still another step before they are able to do so.
“We have to amend the contracts first, and then we would be able to give them their funds,” he said.
Hallett also said these organizations will not receive these funds directly. Instead, “they have to expend it and then request reimbursement.”
He said the city is prepared to continue to reallocate more unused federal coronavirus relief funds and that “any unspent funds would just go to Foundation for Senior Living for the short-term housing assistance through rent, mortgage and utility assistance.”
He mentioned that these federal relief funds are being allocated to the areas that need them most.
“The majority of it went to and will continue to go to the rent, mortgage, utility,” Hallett said. “That really seems to be the highest need that was out there.”
He also urged anyone who is in need of assistance to reach out.
“We do encourage the residents to call if they need any kind of assistance with rent, mortgage or utility,” Hallett said.