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Parma rolls out COVID-related small business owner economic assistance and residential rent relief programs – cleveland.com

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PARMA, Ohio — The economic downturn related to the pandemic finds both renters and business owners living in uncertain times.

In an effort to not only help out the community but attempt to maintain stability related to COVID-19, Parma recently announced two related initiatives that tap into the city’s nearly $900,000 in CARES Act funding tied to the federal Community Development Block Grant-CV (CDBG) program.

“We’ve got a two-prong approach for the use of our CARES money,” Parma Community Department Services Director Erik Tollerup said. “It’s treated like CDBG money, but it’s specifically targeted for COVID-only response.

“The small business grant program that we put together is aimed at businesses with 15 or less employees. The businesses can receive the lesser of either $10,000 or the average of their monthly operating expenses prior to COVID.”

Business owners can start applying online beginning next week. Tollerup said the main criteria for the program is being able to show a 25 percent reduction in revenue during the pandemic compared to before the shutdown occurred.

“The other aspect of it is if the business has five people or less including the owner,” Tollerup said. “That’s called a microenterprise. The microenterprise would be eligible for $10,000 or three times their monthly expenses, but the criteria is that the owner has to be a low-income person. They’d have to earn under $46,000 a year.”

As far as the residential rent relief, Tollerup said the program is designed to stave off the wave of evictions that are predicted once the CDC order against the process is lifted.

“Experts are worried the real estate market in the local economy is you’re going to have a ton of renters out there not being able to pay their rent,” Tollerup said. “They can’t get evicted and the landlords are going to be shorted money.

“We’re trying to help prevent that and keep everybody — owners or renters — whole.”

Parma’s Project HELP Program, which has been in existence for 16 years, utilizes both CDBG and CDBG-CV funds to prevent utility termination and/or homelessness via eviction or foreclosure due to a no-fault loss (layoff, furlough, termination due to verifiable medical condition, reduced hours) of income in the household.

If the loss of income is COVID-related, residents can qualify for a maximum six-month grant for utility and rent/mortgage subsidy payable directly to the utility company, landlord or the mortgage company.

Also, if the loss of income is not COVID-related, residents can qualify for a maximum three month grant for utility and rent/mortgage subsidy.

Tollerup noted the average benefit to owners or renters is between $4,000 and $5,000.

“Both programs are very important,” Parma Mayor Tim DeGeeter said. “Most of our city’s revenue is based on income, so we want to keep these small businesses open and through 2020. I have no doubt this will help stabilize and keep doors open for some businesses.

“As for (resident rent relief), it’s very important to shore that up and build a stronger foundation. Obviously the pandemic has really affected a lot of people out there and their ability to pay rent and normal expenses. Hopefully this can be of some assistance to them to get their footing and get them back to where they were prior to March.”

Read more news from the Parma Sun Post here.

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