City's $2.5 million relief fund depleted within hours - Albuquerque Journal

City’s $2.5 million relief fund depleted within hours

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Demand for pandemic relief has far exceeded the capacity of a city of Albuquerque program established to help residents ineligible for other assistance, with applications exhausting funding in less than a day.

Officials said Monday that the nearly $2.5 million Community Impact Fund that opened for applications Dec. 7 “went in eight hours.” All told, 3,233 people applied the first day they could. The city was able to fund grants for 1,213 households.

“That just really underscores the very, very deep need in our community of people who have been left out of other forms of assistance,” Michelle Melendez, the city’s director of equity and inclusion, said in a media briefing Monday.

The city created the fund for people who lost income during the pandemic – including via job loss, work hour reduction or a temporary, COVID-19-related workplace shutdown – but who did not qualify for unemployment insurance or benefits.

The grants also were aimed at those who were ineligible for last spring’s federal stimulus payment, including undocumented immigrants and mixed-status families.

One city representative called it a “fund of last resort” when announcing the program earlier this month. He estimated that 5,000 individuals in Albuquerque may meet the criteria for the program.

The nonprofit Family Independence Initiative of Albuquerque processed the applications for the city, approving the 1,213 recipients on a first-come, first-served basis, according to a city spokesman. Some recipients have already received the money, depending on the payment method they selected.

The city paid for the program with federal COVID-19 relief money.

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