Tens of thousands of Jacksonville residents could be getting financial relief soon in the form of a stimulus check if the City Council passes legislation that will be filed by Mayor Lenny Curry’s office Friday.
If passed, the legislation would get nearly $160 million in Federal CARES Act funds to disperse to different areas of the community.
Of that money, $40 million would be allocated for a direct stimulus for residents in the county to help pay mortgage, rent and utility payments. Forty-thousand households would get the money, with $1,000 going to each home.
To meet the qualifications for the stimulus, a person must make less than $75,000 a year and must have lost 25% or more of his or her income due to COVID-19. The money will be restricted to $1,000 for each address, meaning two people in one household can’t get separate stimulus checks.
The process to apply and get the stimulus grant would take a week to 10 days, according to Jacksonville Chief Administrative Officer Brian Hughes. People would apply online or over the phone, and final steps can be done at a location to be determined. Hughes said the city is working with JTA to figure out a way to help people with no means of transportation.
The money will be given out on a first come, first serve basis.
“It will be a very expeditious process, and one that is meant to get the cash in the hands of those who need it with every bit of haste that we can,” Hughes said.
Thirty-five million dollars of the stimulus will go to COVID-19 testing, including testing sites and other health care needs. Another $12.5 million will be allocated to Jacksonville’s COVID-19 emergency account for money that hasn’t been reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Curry announced that a walk-up testing site will open on Friday, April 24 at Henry L. Brown Kooker Park in the Talleyrand area. It will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m and able to conduct 200 tests per day.
Jacksonville’s homeless population will also get more testing as Sulzbacher will begin testing staff and clients next week, with help from Quest Labs and UF Health.
Walmart is also partnering with Jacksonville to open up two more drive-thru testing sites expected to be open in early May, according to Curry. The testing will be available by appointment.
Another $26 million of the stimulus will go to fund the city’s part in the Small Business Relief Program that was launched with VyStar Credit Union.
Curry said $25 million will go toward offsetting expected declines in city revenues due to the coronavirus. That includes money that comes from taxes and city fees. Part of this pool of money will waive building and mobility fees to continue encouraging economic development
Lastly, Curry said $20 million would be distributed to entities running city-owned facilities affected by the coronavirus, or those that help with jobs related to the city.
The City Council has had a “very positive reaction” to the legislation, according to Curry.
“I'm so grateful for their partnership through all of this,” Curry said. “So I expect it to pass and I expect to get dollars into people's hands.”
The plan for a soft reopening of the city, with some businesses allowed to reopen, is on the table for “early May,” according to Curry’s conversations with his team and Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office.
Regarding the federal grand jury subpoena issued to JEA, Curry said he had just heard about it on Wednesday.
“That's not a surprise to me,” Curry said. “And if we're asked, as I've said before, if we're asked, my office, or if I'm asked to do anything, we're obviously going to comply and be helpful.”
Curry said JEA interim CEO Melissa Dykes will remain on the advisory council that he put together to help with recommendations on reopening the city.
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