Sundance Times - Continuing the Crook County News Since 1884

State aid to launch by June 1

 

May 28, 2020



With a following wind and a lot of hard work, the financial aid programs authorized by the Wyoming State Legislature are set to go live on June 1. Businesses that have suffered financially through the COVID-19 crisis, as well as those whose housing situation has been impacted, are expected to be able to apply for assistance beginning on that date.

Speaking last week, Josh Dorrell of the Wyoming Business Council commented that businesses across the state have been “dramatically impacted” by the pandemic. And by businesses, he said, what we really mean is people.

Owners, employees, graduates looking for a first opportunity – Wyoming has worked hard to remain open, he said, but the health challenges “have indeed taken a toll”.

“Balancing lives and livelihoods is a tough task,” said Dorrell.

Thanks to the bills passed a week ago by the legislature during special session, a program of rapid assistance will aim to get $325 million to businesses across the state, “providing a lifeline to our main streets”. Numerous hours have been put in by the governor’s office, committees, business people and more, said Dorrell, and “the result is a program that rapidly puts money into the hands of businesses” while cutting down on the red tape that typically gets in the way.

The goal, he said, is for a “smooth and simple process”.

Three programs will address three specific areas: the Wyoming Business Interruption Stipend Program will provide $50 million for businesses with 50 employees or fewer, offering a one-time stipend as well as an additional amount per employee. Preference will be given to those who “might have fallen through the cracks” of the Paycheck Protection Program, Dorrell said.

The Coronavirus Business Relief Stipend Program is for businesses up to 100 employees that were required to close due to state health orders and will provide a maximum of $300,000 to cover expenditures and expenses. The Coronavirus Mitigation Stipend Program is open to businesses regardless of size to cover COVID-related expenses up to a maximum of $500,000. The bills were intentionally written to provide broad coverage, he said.

Dorrell cautioned that “we want to make sure it’s done properly” and said these programs will need to be developed from scratch to make sure they are not only accessible, but also secure.

“As a business owner, you know that putting quality systems in place takes time,” he said. Auditing of the programs is necessary because even in Wyoming, not everyone follows cowboy ethics, he added.

Prior to launch, Dorrell announced that the Wyoming Business Council will offer a series of webinars to assist business owners, while as many people as possible, from banks and chambers of commerce to the business council itself, will be asked to help with the application process. He asked business owners to make sure to have basic information such as employer number and W9 available and to be in good standing with the Secretary of State’s Office.

Housing assistance

Scott Hoversland of the Wyoming Community Development Authority echoed the sentiment that assistance for housing, rental and mortgage assistance should come online by June 1. The legislature approved $15 million at the special session to establish a temporary program to provide housing to a household where at least one person has experienced a loss in income, been laid off or been subject to a reduction in work hours and is consequently unable to pay rent.

This program won’t necessarily need to be created from scratch, Hoversland said, as it will be possible to mimic similar programs in surrounding states.

“It’s CARES Act funding and we want to be…good stewards of the money that we receive,” he said.

Eligible recipients will be able to receive monthly assistance for security deposits, hazard insurance fees, rent and mortgage, he said. A maximum amount of $2000 will be imposed and applicants will need to contribute 30% of their gross monthly income.

Hoversland emphasized that the 30% is not calculated from an applicant’s regular income, but from the amount they are making at this time.

Applications will be available at http://www.wyomingcda.com, Hoversland said, as well as information on how the program is progressing. All those who have suffered a job loss, reduction of compensation, closure of workplace or loss of income to care for a homebound child will be eligible.

Eligibility will not, however, include housing payments that were due before April 1 and those who are already receiving other forms of housing assistance such as Housing Choice vouchers.

 
 

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