Government workers in Colorado are busy this month building the new websites and application forms that will let residents get their share of more than $240 million in coronavirus relief approved by lawmakers during a special session.
“This stuff is working at breakneck speed, so we’re working as quickly as we can to get this up,” said Brett McPherson, a spokesman for the Department of Local Affairs.
But it will still take a few months for all the money to be distributed. And the timeline and the application process will be different depending on what kind of aid residents are seeking. Here’s an early guide to how you can prepare to apply for the new relief money.
Small business relief
Lawmakers approved $35.2 million in direct aid to owners of small restaurants, bars, catering companies, movie theaters and gyms that have been hard hit by capacity restrictions during the pandemic.
So how can they get their share?
Right now, business owners should start paying attention to their county commissioners and city councils.
Counties and local governments must apply for a share of the small business relief funding by Jan. 8. By Jan. 15, the funds will be divvied up between eligible counties based on their population sizes.
Local governments will oversee an application process that must last at least 21 days. The funding cannot go out on a first come, first serve basis.
There are also several caveats attached to the money.
It can only go to small businesses in places that were placed under “severe (COVID-19) capacity restrictions” before Dec. 10 and continue to face those restrictions through the end of this year.
Based on the state’s timeline, small businesses will not see payments until early February.
A $60 million housing relief package was the biggest single stimulus bill passed by lawmakers.
Most of this money will go to existing state programs helping renters and landlords who are experiencing financial hardship.
Renters who would like to apply for emergency housing assistance can click here and get connected with the Salvation Army, which is helping with applications statewide. More details about the program can be found here.
Residents can also contact a local housing nonprofit, or call 2-1-1, for help.
McPherson says the state is currently working on a new web portal to let renters apply directly for the funding.
The money from the special session will go into an existing Emergency Housing Assistance Program.
The state’s $20 million housing assistance budget from the federal CARES act was set to expire at the end of the year. The new money from the state will be made available Jan. 1 and must be spent by the end of June.
Meanwhile, landlords can apply for assistance on behalf of their tenants using the Property Owner Preservation Program.
The money is distributed to landlords based on how affordable their housing unit is, meaning there is a threshold for how high the rent can be based on the number of bedrooms in a home.
Relief for artists
In another measure, lawmakers approved up to $7.5 million in relief funds for artists and workers in creative industries such as music, dance and theater. Workers who have been affected economically by the cancellation of events and performances can apply for up to $2,500 in grants by clicking here. The deadline to apply is 4 p.m. on Jan. 8.
Broadband money for schools
School districts can apply for a share of a $20 million grant aiming to connect more students and teachers to high-speed internet during the pandemic. The deadline to apply is Jan. 8. More information can be found here.
Another measure approved by lawmakers sends $1 million to residents in need of assistance with housing-related legal issues. Residents facing evictions can apply for help by clicking here.
Residents who are struggling to afford their energy bills during the pandemic can apply for new relief funding through the state’s Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP). Click here or call 1-866-432-8435 for details.
This story will be updated as more applications for aid become available online.