Juneau approves more cash relief for low income residents

CBJ Pandemic relief checks
The City and Borough of Juneau cut checks like these to locals financially impacted by the pandemic in 2020. (Photo illustration by Jeremy Hsieh/KTOO)

Help is on the way for Juneau residents who need financial relief.

On Thursday, the Juneau Assembly voted 7 to 2 on an ordinance to pay out more individual grants in addition to those paid out last year. Assembly member Michelle Hale said the money is for Juneau’s lowest income residents.

“Those people often fall through all the cracks, they don’t qualify for unemployment often, they’ve been impacted by having to take care of children,” Hale said. “So those are the people that I want to get that money to.”

One of the no votes was assemblymember Loren Jones. He said the $700,000 used to make the payments is the last of the CARES Act money that congress passed in the first round of pandemic relief.

“This is a tough one to object to,” Jones said. “There [are] still a lot of unknowns. This is money that was given to the city from the first round of federal CARES funding. The second round provided no additional monies for cities or municipalities. So this is spending the last of our money.”

The other no vote was mayor Beth Weldon, who said she would have liked the city to wait. She also said residents will soon have another opportunity for relief from state aid through the Alaska House Financing Corporation which opens up the application period on Monday.

Assembly member Alicia Hughes-Skandijs said it wasn’t just about facts and figures but prioritizing relief.

“I cannot let the individuals who are most economically vulnerable in our society, be the people that we say, ‘I will wait and see before I provide aid to you,’” Hughes-Skadijs said.

Instead of a first come, first served approach, the money will go directly to the lowest income earners who applied for the individual assistance program last year.

People who received the city’s housing assistance grant last year are ineligible for this round. Base grants range from $500 to $1,000 and an additional $300 for each dependent child.

According to the city, 2,348 people applied for the individual assistance grants and 1,180 people are eligible for this added round of payments.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled assembly member Alicia Hughes-Skandijs’ last name.

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