Monmouth County Freeholders develop plan to help residents, businesses out of work
In the beginning of May Monmouth County was one of eight New Jersey counties to receive federal funding via the CARES Act, all to be used by municipalities and local government officials to soften the cost of Covid-19 related expenses.
Since that time (which seems longer than two months) many more people have become unemployed and businesses have shut down and the ones who haven't are struggling to stay open in the current state climate.
In an effort to help these businesses help stay afloat the Monmouth County Freeholders are allocating $10-million from the $108-million they received in federal CARES Act funding to supplement the Community Development Block Grant where funding will be used to provide grants of up to $10,000 to businesses with up to 50 employees.
It's part of what Freeholder Director Tom Arnone says is a comprehensive plan they hope to have fully unveiled by July 20 to help the business climate in Monmouth County.
"We have come up with a very comprehensive plan which will allow funding to be a reimbursement of 50-employees or less, it will be able to give up to $10,000 for expenses related to rent and if you own the building the interest component of that mortgage," Arnone said Wednesday. "We can't pay the principal side of it but the interest side of it and then Covid-19 related expenses as well, PPE gear, and any other expense like improvements you've done to your building up to $10,000."
Arnone said they'll be on conference calls with their mayors in the days and weeks ahead to help disperse this information and he's also asking businesses to do their part in helping make sure they get the help they need.
"You need to gather up all your information, you need to get your leases together, get your mortgage together and your invoices...have all of them together so that if the magic day is on July 20, you're able to submit them and make it easier for our side to review and approve and then get those checks out to you," Arnone said.
Monmouth County residents who in normal times and more certain circumstances would be employed and have enough money to put food on the table are now struggling to find where to go for the essentials and financial aid.
Freeholder Deputy Director Sue Kiley explains that the Monmouth County Financial Recovery Initiative is designed to help residents in need of public resources and give them a roadmap on how to secure them so they can get back on their feet.
"We have, as of June, just short of 80,000 unemployment claims right here in Monmouth County and a lot of those people that are filing for unemployment are doing it for the first time," Kiley said Wednesday. "They've always had jobs, they haven't had to access the resources but now they've lost their jobs, they've got food insecurity, they may not have access to healthcare, they may not have access to childcare and we want them to be as self-sufficient as possible and return to the lives they had before Covid."
Freeholder Kiley explains that their Financial Recovery Initiative will include the Division of Social Services for public, financial, health and homeless assistance as well as the United Way Financial Success Network, Fulfill for food insecurity, the Child Care Connection, the American Jobs Center as well as help from local municipalities.
They've also created an Oversight Task Force which will feature community leaders to help generate ideas on ways to help residents.
"We'll be able to help with things like unemployment compensation benefits, rebates, student loan repayments, retirement and other benefit plan relief as well as credit reporting, federal backed mortgages, minimum required distributions for IRA's and other plans and funding relief for defined benefit plans and access to healthcare" Kiley said.
While the decision to allow indoor dining again and lift other restrictions lyes with Governor Phil Murphy, it'll be up to the local commutes to help in making things opening again happen sooner rather than later.
Freeholders Arnone and Kiley are also stressing the importance of following safety protocols for everyone's health and safety so we can get back to normal soon.
"Social distancing is the way to do it and it's non negotiable. It's your part in making sure that you are safe, your family is safe, our businesses can open indoor dining which is so critical to those businesses and to keep our community safe," Kiley said.
"Some of the things that we do could be the outcome of the future advancement if we don't things safely and abide by the guidelines," Arnone said.