The City of Santa Ana in Orange County, California, launched a new program on Aug. 17 to offer financial and health assistance to residents, nonprofits, and local businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Santa Ana CARES initiative was set in motion after the Santa Ana City Council voted unanimously on Aug. 4 to allocate $28.6 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds provided by the state budget to support local residents and programs.
“The hope is that with these programs, we’ll be able to help reduce the number of cases and/or the number of new cases in Santa Ana, and flatten the curve as much as possible,” Santa Ana Public Affairs Information Officer Paul Eakins told The Epoch Times.
Qualified residents now have the opportunity to apply for and receive monetary aid, including $10,000 grants for businesses and nonprofits including bars and restaurants with fewer than 10 full-time employees, and $50,000 grants for nonprofit arts-related organizations.
“Local businesses, nonprofits, and artist organizations are extremely important for the community, so the City Council really wanted to support them with grants,” said Eakins.
The program also allows individual artists to apply for $1,000 in benefits.
“Here in Santa Ana, we really value our art community,” Eakins added.
Of the funds allotted, $8 million will be set aside for direct monetary assistance, including $1,500 in rental grants to eligible tenants and landlords. Tenants can also apply for utility bill payment assistance of up to $500 for those with delinquent bills.
Eakins said that if necessary, Santa Ana City Manager Kristine Ridge has the authority to shuffle money around to the different programs as needed.
“If we discover that there is a particular need for one of these services or programs more so than others, then the city manager might reallocate the money toward that,” he said.
Another key element of the program is the incentive to provide health-related assistance to those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A portion of the funds will be allocated toward isolation assistance, which offers a hotel room for larger families living in smaller units who have a member of the household diagnosed with COVID-19.
“We are utilizing the isolation assistance to separate family members who test positive so the entire family won’t get affected by COVID-19,” Eakins said.
The initiative includes a Mobile Resource Center that will visit dozens of heavily populated neighborhoods where residents are at higher risk of being exposed to the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus. The mobile unit will provide free testing, masks, and health supplies.
The program also offers city residents free COVID-19 testing at Santa Ana College. The testing is available by appointment on Saturdays and Sundays.
A COVID-19 hotline will help the community access the assistance programs, and a nurse hotline will soon be available 24/7 to answer health-related questions.
Santa Ana is the second most populous city in Orange County, with nearly 335,000 residents. As of Aug. 18, the Orange County Health Care Agency reported 8,639 total cases of COVID-19 in the city.