Documented by Dani Huerta
What happened: At their Tuesday meeting, the Tulare County Supervisors approved a $2 million disaster assistance fund to help businesses that sustained damages caused by the March 2023 winter storms.
Denise England, Resource Management Agency (RMA) grants and resource manager, presented the item, which will provide grants of up to $50,000 per applicant.
To qualify, she said businesses must be for-profit, located in the unincorporated county area, cannot have received FEMA assistance, cannot have received insurance proceeds and must provide documentation of damages and unanticipated expenses.
England said that many businesses weren’t covered by FEMA and short-term vacation rentals or Airbnbs are not eligible.
Supervisor Pete Vander Poel said some businesses didn’t qualify for assistance from the Small Business Administration, which will provide up to $2 million in loans to impacted businesses.
“This will help potentially, at a minimum of 40 businesses, if all qualify for the maximum, but I think it’s an outstanding idea to provide some level of assistance to those who are in need,” said Supervisor Pete Vander Poel.
Pandemic assistance comes to an end: The supervisors also held a public hearing to close out a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) that provided assistance for 386 low and moderate income families impacted by COVID-19.
Mike Washington, associate director of the RMA, said the program was allocated $900,000 and families received an average of $2,300 to assist with mortgage, rent, and utility payments.
He said the county received $490,166 of federal CARES Act funding for the grants and allocated an additional $600,000 towards the grants.
Supervisor Eddie Valero thanked the RMA for administering the program.
“This is what the county does,” he said. “We fill in the gaps, we cover the silos, we are there to help our communities when the time and the need comes and especially during these type of events that have impacted our communities so greatly.”
Washington said there is a remaining balance of $5,738 in unspent grant funding due to “contractual and timing constraints.”
Up next: The Tulare County Board of Supervisors will meet again on Sept. 12.