A skyline cityscape view of downtown Denver looking west.

Denver announced on Tuesday the deployment of $20 million in coronavirus relief funds to support residents, local nonprofits and businesses that have been hit hardest by the pandemic.

The dollars are drawn from the $126.8 million the city received from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, and is the first phase of more to come, Margaret Danuser, the city's deputy chief financial officer, told Denver City Council's Finance and Governance Committee on Tuesday afternoon. The funds are intended to "meet the needs" of areas and communities not necessarily covered under the $17 million in reimbursement funds the city received from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which requires a more circumscribed usage of dollars. 

“Our residents need more relief, and these are programs we can deploy funding to right now to support people’s and family’s housing, food and job security, as well as our community’s public health, during this pandemic,” Mayor Michael Hancock said in a statement. “We know there is more we can do to help our community and families during this challenging time for all of us, and we’re committed to working with our partners and members of City Council to address those needs through these emergency relief funds.”

As part of the city's first round of grants, Denver will distribute $6.5 million in economic support to nonprofits and small businesses, the latter of which will receive $4.3 million. These funds are in addition to the existing grants and relief funds provided by Denver’s Office of Economic Development and Opportunity.

Another $6.5 million will go toward housing needs, with $4 million allocated for rent and utility assistance, $1 million reserved for mortgage assistance, and $1.5 million designated for rehousing strategies. 

An additional $5 million will be reserved for public health initiatives for businesses, nonprofits and nursing homes. That money also will be used to purchase personal protective equipment and provide “widespread” community testing.

Finally, the city will distribute $2 million for food assistance programs, allocating $1.5 million for food delivery to vulnerable populations and the remaining half-million dollars toward sanitation and PPE for the food delivery programs. 

The Hancock administration will work with Denver City Council to deploy these additional resources into existing programs, including the Temporary Rental and Utility Assistance and mortgage assistant programs.

The remaining funds received from the CARES Act will be distributed after a “deliberative process to collaborate with the Recovery Council and City Council on eligible uses and priorities for the funds, an intake process for programmatic ideas, and to set aside a portion of the funds as contingency dollars to cushion the city from future potential impacts from the pandemic,” according to the city’s Tuesday news release.

This week, the city also will be awarding another $750,000 to $1 million in grants to support the city’s most vulnerable small businesses. The grants are provided in partnership with Mile High United Way through the Small Business Emergency Relief Fund, which was created in mid-March in response to the virus.

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