NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – To continue helping New Hanover County residents, businesses and nonprofits recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a budget amendment to accept $45,543,632 in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) at its meeting on June 22, 2021.
An overview of the framework to use these federal funds can be viewed here, and is focused on direct assistance for the community through broadband access, business and nonprofit assistance, workforce development, infrastructure improvements, emergency preparedness, housing assistance, physical and mental health and education.
“The programs and initiatives we will be investing in over the next few years through ARP funds align with the county’s strategic plan and are in direct response to the needs in our community,” said Board of Commissioners Chair Julia Olson-Boseman. “The overall goal is to help our businesses, households, children and seniors recover from the economic and health-related difficulties endured during the pandemic, as well as give a boost to long-term initiatives that will benefit our community into the future. I appreciate the partners who are helping to make this work possible and look forward to the benefits these community investments will make.”
Numerous direct community assistance programs will be established over the coming weeks and months, with the first program for small business grants launching today, July 1. Additional information about several of these programs is included below:
New Hanover County is partnering with the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce to administer a Hospitality, Retail, and Service Grant Program, utilizing $2.5 million in ARP funds. The grants will be scaled in size based on the business’ number of employees and are targeted to the hardest hit businesses in our community: retail, service, leisure and hospitality, and childcare. Businesses must be physically located in New Hanover County with at least one of the owners as a county resident. Learn about other qualifications, how the funds can be utilized, and how to apply at WilmingtonChamber.org (access the information in Spanish here). Applications are open now through Friday, July 30. (Note: the grant application deadline was extended from July 15, for an additional two weeks to provide additional time for businesses to apply.)
New Hanover County is partnering with Cape Fear Collective to administer a Nonprofit Assistance Grant Program, utilizing $700,000 in ARP funds. The grants are for nonprofits that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. Nonprofit organizations can apply and learn more about this program at www.capefearcollective.org. Applications will open in mid-July.
New Hanover County is establishing a program to connect households that qualify for Medicaid, food and nutrition services or other economic support benefits to in-home, wired broadband. This will ensure high speed internet is affordable for families. Applications will be available for residents to apply starting July 6, at AccessHHS.nhcgov.com; paper applications will also be available at the Health and Human Services building and at all Public Libraries.
New Hanover County is partnering with Step Up Wilmington to provide job training to as many as 225 unemployed or underemployed people in the community, with some on-the-job training opportunities to be tailored to the local film industry. The goal is to provide a living wage to people while participating in the job training programs, and for them to continue earning living wages in future employment opportunities. To get started, go to StepUpWilmington.org or call 910-343-8469.
New Hanover County will provide homeowners with financial assistance who are in arrears, or behind on mortgage payments because of impacts from COVID-19. This program is currently being developed through the county’s Health and Human Services agency and will be open in August or September of this year. (Note: this is in addition to the Emergency Rental Assistance Program already underway through the county.)
New Hanover County is developing a two-year pilot program that is intended to help close the gap between income and rent. This program will launch in August 2021 and provide direct payments to qualified, pre-selected property management companies and landlords to help residents earning 60 to 120 percent of the area median income with a monthly subsidy of $200 per month for single-person households and $300 per month for multiple-person households. Learn more here.
New Hanover County is partnering with Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) to provide bill relief to customers who CFPUA identifies as becoming delinquent on their water bills during the pandemic. Details regarding eligibility and the scope of the assistance continue to be finalized.
Additional programs being funded through the ARP include extending water and sewer to Eden Village, a professional readiness apprenticeship program, afterschool transportation for public school students to receive tutoring and be in supportive afterschool environments, covering a portion of the stormwater services cost for residents in the unincorporated areas of the county this year, water and sewer infrastructure for a new business park, future water and sewer extensions to support construction of affordable housing, and initiatives to address the acute impact the pandemic has had on mental health, particularly for children and seniors.
The county will continue to update its framework for ARP funds based on the needs of the community, guidance from Commissioners, and requirements from the federal government.