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Pinellas steers $34 million in relief funds to nonprofits, child care facilities

It's part of the county's share of $170 million in federal CARES Act funding that will go to businesses, individuals and public health.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to strain residents’ basic needs, Pinellas County is partnering with two local agencies to distribute $34 million in federal CARES Act funding targeted towards child care facilities and nonprofits.

Pinellas Community Foundation will assist the county in allocating $29.7 million to nonprofits prioritizing food security, behavioral and mental health, and legal aid, County Commission Chair Pat Gerard announced at a virtual news conference Thursday.

The county is also dedicating $4.6 million to child care facilities struggling to operate with increased costs and decreased revenue due to parents keeping children home, said Lindsay Carson, CEO of the Early Learning Coalition of Pinellas County, which will help the county distribute the funds.

This $34 million round is part of the $170 million Pinellas County received from the federal government for coronavirus aid. Eligible nonprofits and childcare facilities can begin applying on Friday. Funds must be spent by Dec. 30.

Pinellas Community Foundation CEO Duggan Cooley said the funds will help food pantries stock shelves and organizations provide meals to needy families. The money will also fund nonprofits helping citizens negotiate eviction proceedings and provide mental health services “in light of increased isolation and stress.”

In a statement, Tammy Greer, executive director of Gulfcoast Legal Services, said this grant could help build the legal staff to handle the influx of calls for help with evictions she expects this fall.

“Even with the moratorium extension on evictions, landlords can still commence residential eviction proceedings due to rent non-payment,” Greer said. “Landlords just cannot seek a final judgment.”

Within Pinellas County’s $170 million in CARES Act funding, the Pinellas County Commission last month agreed to dedicate: $56 million to public health for testing, contact tracing, nursing, personal protective equipment and reimbursing local governments for COVID-19 related costs; $54 million to local businesses for grants, capacity building, and child care; and $58 million to individuals and families for rent, mortgage and utility assistance, Thursday’s nonprofit allocation, and workforce training.

“Here in Pinellas County, we’ve been working very hard to support our community in this time of pandemic,” Gerard said on Thursday.

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