House passes second economic package of $121 million, $16 million for homelessness

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House passes second economic package of $121 million, $16 million for homelessness

Fri, 06/19/2020 - 4:20pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Today the Vermont House advanced the Broadband, Connectivity, Housing, and Economic Development bill (H.966). The passage of this bill brings the total Coronavirus Relief Funds appropriated by the House in the last week to nearly a billion dollars. $121 million in economic development funds and $16 million in services for homelessness were added to H.966 in amendments today, supported by the Commerce & Economic Development Committee and Human Services Committee, respectively. With last week’s bill, S.350, that’s a total of $191 million in economic development and $91 million to address housing and homelessness.

Highlights of the amendments include:

Economic Development:

  • $90 million in business recovery grants including:  

    • $70 million recovery grants, in addition to the $70 million in S.350

    • $5 million for working lands and our agriculture and wood forest industries

    • $5 million in grants to women-owned and minority-owned small businesses

    • $3 million to highway contractors

    • $1.5 million to outdoor recreation businesses

    • $5 million to assist our creative economy

  • $3 million in marketing support for businesses such as restaurants, downtowns, and tourism properties

  • $3 million for business technical support

  • $5 million in grants to establish a program to help our restaurants and farms create jobs and fight food insecurity

  • $20 million to provide hazard pay to frontline workers

Homelessness:

  • Expanding the Vermont Rental Subsidy program 

  • Assisting with housing navigation and case management services

  • Financial assistance to Vermont households living in motels to help them enter safe housing arrangements

  • Supplementing the General Assistance motel voucher program

  • Capitalizing a housing risk pool for landlords to encourage rentals to individuals experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity 

Chair of the House Commerce & Economic Development Committee, Representative Michael Marcotte (R-Coventry), spoke in support of the bill, saying, “we heard from Vermonters and Vermont business owners that there is a lot of fear and despair across the state. We are hopeful that the economic supports in this bill will bring much-needed assistance. We know we cannot do everything in this time of great need, but we are confident that the $121 million investment in this bill will provide relief and a path to recovery for many Vermonters and their businesses.”

“The number of households living in state-supported motels or hotels grew from approximately 300 to over 1400 over the course of two months, directly related to the COVID-19 public health emergency,” noted House Human Services Committee Chair, Representative Ann Pugh (D-South Burlington). “Securing safe, stable housing opportunities for all Vermonters is essential. The COVID-19 pandemic has made housing in shelters incompatible with maintaining public health; increased the number of households experiencing homelessness and in need of housing supports to obtain or maintain safe, stable housing; and has created a demand for diverse social services to safely house these vulnerable Vermonters. This critical investment of $16 million will provide essential assistance to Vermonters in this time of great need.” 

“These amendments are essential supports for Vermonters and Vermont businesses in their time of extraordinary need,” added House Speaker Mitzi Johnson (D-South Hero). “This economic development package, coupled with the immediate economic relief in S.350, make our specific business economic development total over $191 million. When you consider the significant economic development support in other Coronavirus Relief Fund bills, specifically the $13 million in child care assistance in H.965 and the expansive broadband and housing supports in H.966 and S.350, our economic development investment is over $325 million. Additionally, the $16 million in support for Vermonters experiencing homelessness will go far toward our goal of securing safe, stable housing opportunities for all Vermonters.”

Source: MONTPELIER, VT - Speaker of the House 6.19.2020