Housing and food security are at the top of Woodinville City Council’s priority list for using the remaining federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (known as CARES Act) funding.
At its meeting Tuesday Sept. 8, the council discussed possible programs to support with the $286,939 the city will need to spend by Nov. 30. City Manager Brandon Buchanan told council members the time crunch limits the city’s ability to create and administer its own program, but it could partner with existing ones to meet its goals.
“My priority would be to keep a roof over people’s heads,” said Councilmember Susan Boundy Sanders.
The other council members echoed her sentiment and listed housing assistance as a top priority.
Buchanan said the city could consider partnerships with the nonprofit Hopelink or the Northshore Senior Center to provide rental and utility assistance to Woodinville residents. Staff has also reached out to the YMCA about the potential to support its childcare and meal programs, Buchanan said.
The federal funding must be used to cover or reimburse “necessary expenditures incurred” due to the COVID-19 outbreak and can’t be used for anything accounted for in the city’s budget as of March 27, according to the agreement. The funds were administered to the city in separate payments through the state Department of Commerce and King County.
Mayor Elaine Cook recommended a partnership with EastWest Food Rescue, a recently formed nonprofit that has served more than 1.5 million meals, according to its website. The city previously granted the group a $10,000 human services grant.
“They are still bringing a lot of food back to Woodinville and feeding people in Woodinville,” Cook said at the meeting.
Buchanan additionally presented council with information on partnering with the Northshore School District, which has spent approximately $861,000 on providing meals to students.
Cook also suggested looking into a partnership with Centro Cultural Mexicano, which has an existing program to distribute rental assistance funding and meet other needs.
As of Aug. 31, the city has spent a total of $290,464.48 of CARES Act funding on safety measures at city hall, personal protective equipment (PPE) for businesses, and the largest portion of funds have gone to new human services grants for COVID relief. Council has allocated $123,875 to the following programs: Woodinville Storehouse Food Bank, EastWest Food Rescue, Northshore YMCA, Farms for Life, Friends of Youth, Northshore Senior Center, Camp Unity, Congregations for Homeless and Northshore United Church of Christ.
Buchanan said the council is likely to take action and decide how to use the rest of the funding at its Sept. 22 meeting.