Acting Mayor Janey says $50 million in federal funding earmarked for COVID-19 emergency relief

Acting Mayor Kim Janey on Tuesday announced plans to use a sizable chunk of federal COVID-19 relief funding earmarked for Boston on a number of key priorities as the city works to recover from the pandemic.

“Today, I’m pleased to announce $50 million in new investments for the people of Boston that are made possible by the American Rescue Plan,” Janey said during a City Hall briefing. “This is the first allocation of funding that will total $500 million over five years.”

In a follow-up statement, her office said Janey “has proposed a $50 million emergency relief plan to support an equitable recovery and reopening for Boston residents, workers and small businesses, using funding the City of Boston has received from the federal government following the passage of the American Rescue Plan.”

And, Janey said during the briefing, she’s creating an equitable recovery coordinating committee to ensure the fair distribution of funding.

“With the first $50 million in federal funding, we will immediately build on our emergency relief efforts, including $10 million to support our public health response, including our four-pronged approach to delivering COVID vaccinations to residents,” Janey said. “It will also support behavioral health and substance use disorder, including focused funding for the opioid treatment and services here in Boston.”

She said another $10 million will support “the hardest-hit communities affected by COVID-19, including investing in affordable housing and navigation services, addressing health disparities and social determinants of health, supporting childcare and early learning initiatives, supporting language access communication and evaluation.”

That’s in addition to $14.5 million that Janey said will address “the economic impact of the pandemic on food access, tourism, arts and culture and housing,” plus $15.5 million earmarked for small businesses hurt by the crisis.

The $15.5 million for businesses, her office said in the later statement, includes $8 million to “to build on previous small business funds and create a new, flexible grant fund designed to help small businesses cover expenses related to their reopening, recovery, and growth,” as well as $7.5 million to “meet existing demand for the Commercial Rental Relief Fund, designed to stabilize small businesses and prevent commercial displacement due to the pandemic.”

During the briefing, Janey also provided reporters with city vaccination data, as well as stats on infections.

“The number of COVID infections in the city has dropped by 51 percent over the past two weeks,” Janey said. “We now have a citywide positivity rate of just 1.6 percent, a historic low.”

And here’s an encouraging high on the vaccine front.

“Sixty percent of Boston residents have received at least one shot, and almost half of Boston residents are fully vaccinated,” Janey said.

Residents are considered fully vaccinated once they get two doses, spaced weeks apart, of the two-shot Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

At the outset of the briefing, Janey called for a moment of silence to mark the one-year observance of the slaying of George Floyd, a Black man whose murder in May 2020 at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer touched off nationwide protests for racial justice.

“This really is an urgent call to action,” Janey said. “To continue the work that is already underway when it comes to racial justice and equity work. And to double down on our efforts. We are doing that through our investments with the FY ‘22 budget. We’re doing that with these investments from federal funds. We are doing that in the policy work, whether it be police reform, whether it be supporting our young people in schools, whether it be supporting small businesses and ensuring that we are being intentional, laser-like focused when it comes to equity.”

Read the full article at The Boston Globe.

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