The St. Johns Board of County Commissioners approved Phase I of a $46 million CARES Act funding program on July 14, 2020 that focuses on small business recovery, resident assistance, and non-profit organizations. County staff contacted community stakeholders to conduct a needs assessment and gather feedback to fund programs essential to recovery efforts. With $10 million allocated to an expanded Back to Business Grant Program, the funding reinforces St. Johns County's commitment to ensuring small businesses remain at the forefront of the economic recovery effort.
Launched in May and funded by the Community Development Block Grant, the Back to Business Grant Program provided short-term financial assistance to St. Johns County businesses that suffered a disruption in operations or a loss of revenue as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. CARES Act funding will allow the County to expand the Back to Business Grant Program and decrease program criteria to assist additional businesses.
The new St. Johns County CARES Act Funding Program also allocated $3 million to individual resident assistance programs that helped with mortgage payments, rent, and personal expenses incurred due to COVID-19. The new funding will allow the continuation of the program that was funded by state grant funds, which have been depleted. The program will provide qualified residents with the necessary assistance to remain in their homes and continue on a path to economic recovery. In addition, the County will begin actively soliciting proposals from local nonprofit agencies that have suffered from COVID-19 to apply for a portion of $5 million of the funding. The Board of County Commissioners recognizes that nonprofit organizations are an integral part of our community and their services are vital for our vulnerable residents. Expanded COVID-19 testing and contact tracing efforts were also bolstered with $2.5 million, and social distancing and decontamination programs received $1.5 million in funding. The program also allocates $1.5 million in funding to the City of St. Augustine and $125,000 to the City of St. Augustine Beach for COVID-related expenditures. All allocations will undergo a needs assessment and will be subjected to a thorough vetting process to ensure expenditures are in compliance with all local, state, and federal regulations.