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On Friday morning, Mayor Robert Restaino announces the disbursement of CARES Act grant funds to local community groups working to fight against the wide-ranging effects of COVID-19 within the City of Niagara Falls community.
The CARES Act, or Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, is a federal grant working to support American people through the continuing public health crisis and economic impacts experienced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ve gone through a series of these deliveries and, several months ago, we had another group of individual entities that received funding,” Restaino said.
Last year, the City of Niagara Falls distributed over $1 million in CARES Act funds to various agencies and initiatives to assist in services and COVID-19 relief.
Restaino said, “Then, once we received additional funding, we put out a request for individuals to provide programs that may qualify under the requirements of the CARES Act. Once they came in, there was an evaluation that was done relative to whether or not the program met all of the requirements, and then whether or not the program overlapped in some with something else that was occurring.”
One of these qualifying community groups was Heart, Love & Soul.
“Thank you to Mayor Restaino and the city for all your support of Heart, Love & Soul,” Executive Director Mark Baetzhold said.
Heart, Love & Soul is a food pantry and dining room program. Its operations were affected by the pandemic and, although staffers were forced to close the dining room, they were able to continue operations serving nearly 100,000 meals outside throughout the course of 2020.
“With this funding from the city, we’ll be able to continue providing meals,” Baetzhold said. “We expect an increase of people who need food support. Food insecurity is on the rise; housing insecurity is on the rise. With these funds, we’ll be in a better position, better situation, to provide services to our community and residents in need.”
The City of Niagara Falls CARES Act funds, in this distribution, amounts to approximately $850,000 and will be disbursed among eight community groups:
These groups will focus on areas of the community effected by COVID-19 by providing food services, shelter options, recovery housing, mental health counseling for youth and adults, mobile health care services, connectivity and accessibility for students, apprenticeship opportunities for laborers, renovation of a child care facility, and more within the City of Niagara Falls.