Luzerne County Set To Receive More Coronavirus Relief Funding

A report by the Times Leader showcased Congressman Cartwright’s continued success in securing federal funding to provide coronavirus relief in Northeastern Pennsylvania:

“Luzerne County will receive another $1.43 million in federal coronavirus funding, U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright announced Thursday.

That’s in addition to $30.8 million already awarded to the county, which plans to provide most of the funding to small businesses, municipalities, police departments and nonprofits.

County Community Development Director Andrew Reilly said Thursday his office will assess outstanding community needs related to the pandemic and allocate the additional funding within federal program requirements.

Cartwright, D-Moosic, said the new funding came from a supplement to the Community Development Block Grant program authorized by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Known as CDBG, the Community Development Block Grant program provides annual formula-based grants to states, cities, and counties to support housing, quality of life and economic opportunities in urban communities, principally for low- and moderate-income residents, officials said.

The supplemental funds can cover a wide range of public services to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus, including small business assistance, emergency housing payments and expenses related to food banks, Cartwright said in a release.

‘Many have been grappling with joblessness, affording housing, and food insecurity — troubles that have been made worse by this pandemic,’ he said. ‘This relief can help those struggling families stay healthy and safe while we keep battling COVID-19.’

A member of the House Appropriations Committee, Cartwright also announced additional funding through the same supplemental program for three cities in the Eighth Congressional District: Hazleton, $146,842; Scranton, $522,531; and Wilkes-Barre, $323,326.

Prior County Funding

Of the $30.8 million previously awarded, Luzerne County plans to keep approximately $8.6 million to cover its own coronavirus expenses in multiple departments or fund specific projects, including work to expand broadband service in the Freeland area and the proposed addition of heating and air conditioning in the prison gym in case it is needed for inmate housing in a coronavirus outbreak.

The remaining $22 million will be provided to outside entities to help them address pandemic needs, said county Manager C. David Pedri.

The county already allocated more than $5 million of the funding to assist county municipalities and will be announcing programs next week for small businesses and nonprofits to apply, Pedri said Thursday.

Most of the $10 million the county set aside for economic development/tourism/small business assistance will go to restaurants, stores and other “mom and pop” operations employing 25 or less, he had said. Economic development organization Penn’s Northeast will be overseeing the grants to businesses and must set up a system to accept applications and respond to questions.

Pedri stressed all funding must cover expenses related to the pandemic and cannot be used for county general fund operating expenses.

‘This money will be put to good use and help the citizens who need it most,’ Pedri said of the additional allocation, thanking Cartwright for continued support in “this time of need.’

Most of the county funding — $28.6 million — came from the CARES Act and was dispersed through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development. This money must be spent by the end of the year, and receipts and invoices will be required before payment to verify the funding is used for eligible coronavirus expenses.”