Suffolk County executive Steve Bellone announced, on Dec. 11, the launch of Suffolk BACKSTOP — a new COVID-19 rental and small business assistance program for County residents and business owners facing hardships due to the ongoing pandemic. The new two part program — Bringing Assistance for COVID-19 and Kickstarting Support to Operating Professionals (BACKSTOP) — will distribute nearly $600,000 in emergency rental assistance to residents and provide nearly 150 small businesses with grants up to $10,000. Applications for the rental assistance program and for the Small Business Assistance Grant Program will open on Dec. 17.
“We are now nine months into this pandemic, and with cases surging once again we need to provide residents in need tangible assistance,” Bellone said. “This new rent relief program coupled with financial aid to struggling small businesses will provide help to some of our most vulnerable residents.”
The rent program will provide a one-time rental assistance payment to eligible applicants in an amount up to 100 percent of one month’s rent, up to a maximum of $2,500. This program funds residents in existing rental units. The applicant will be required to fill out and sign a self-certification form to verify their income and how they were affected by the pandemic. All applications are due on Jan. 15, 2021, and a lottery will be held to select awardees. Prior to the application deadline, the county will conduct a robust outreach and training initiative to community-based organizations to ensure assisting individuals through the application process.
For additional information on participating consortium municipalities, HUD Guidelines and income eligibility, click here. In order to qualify, applicants must:
Additionally, County Executive Bellone today announced that Suffolk County will launch its own COVID-19 Small Business Assistance Grant Program. With $1 million available of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding, the County will provide nearly 150 small businesses with a grant of up to $10,000, based on their number of full-time employees. Businesses with up to 10 employees will be eligible for a maximum grant of $5,000, while businesses with 11 to 50 employees will be eligible for a maximum of up to $10,000 in grant funding. The program is designed to assist struggling small businesses that have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. Eligible businesses include gyms, hair salons and barber shops, nail salons, restaurants, bars and taverns.
This new safety net will ensure that small businesses in Suffolk County have access to a financial lifeline at a time when many are adjusting or repurposing their operations to comply with the state’s COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines. Businesses must be located within one of the participating Consortium municipalities to be eligible for funding pursuant to federal requirements and can apply to the grant program starting on Dec. 17. Additional eligibility details can be found here.
Given the finite resources dedicated to these two innovative programs, the County Executive again urged Washington to pass a comprehensive disaster assistance package that will not only protect essential workers and first responders, but provide relief to families in crisis and small businesses that are struggling to survive.