Under a plan released today by City Council President Brandon Scott, the city would use $25 million from its funding reserves to reduce homelessness, help small business, develop workforce training and provide grants for arts and cultural institutions.
Scott also called for taking money from the Children and Youth Fund, which is earmarked for small nonprofits that work with children, to continue providing meals, acquire laptops to help with remote learning and provide aid to organizations that are working with young people during the pandemic.
“This document lays the groundwork for a successful and equitable recovery for Baltimore,” Scott said during a virtual press conference.
The plan would allocate $3 million in rainy day funds to provide housing for the homeless to reduce their exposure to the virus and provide a space to self-quarantine. Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young’s office said yesterday it would start relocating homeless people age 62 and older to motels, but activists called for further actions and reportedly estimate five times as many rooms are needed for all ages.
Another $10 million would go toward a loan fund for small businesses, allowing companies to borrow up to $50,000 to continue operations and make payroll, continue providing benefits and cover other essential expenses.
To help residents who are out of work, particularly those in the hospitality and service industries, Scott would earmark $8 million for workforce training so people can learn new jobs in highly sought after fields, such as health care.
Lastly, the city would take $4 million to create a grant program for nonprofit museums, theaters and cultural organizations to help them weather the pandemic.
The city is expected to lose close to $170 million due to lost revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic, and officials are working to revise the budget and account for a projected $42.3 million deficit in this fiscal year, which ends in June.
On March 20, Young ordered a freeze on new hiring and non-essential spending across city government.
Lester Davis, the mayor’s chief of communications and government relations, told The Sun the administration is working with the Department of Finance to determine the best use of city funds to respond the economic impact of the pandemic.
That includes, he said, exploring how money from the Children and Youth Fund can be used to meet the immediate needs of young people who are out of school.
Young was a little less diplomatic during a press conference Tuesday afternoon. The mayor said councilmembers are asking for a lot of programs, but “none of them are responsible for the budget.”
“Our budget don’t look good in this pandemic,” he said. “And we have to be reasonable and not be political about this, because this is a pandemic we have never faced and our budget is drained.”
Henry Raymond, director of the Department of Finance, said the rainy day fund will be used for core services. The city is looking for other funding sources to meet the demands presented by the pandemic.
“We have to be very judicious in the use of the rainy day fund, and in the coming days we’ll make those decisions about what potential expenses should be used against the rainy day fund,” he said.
This story has been updated.
- Friday Afternoon Headlines: Officials have received 43 percent of mailed ballots; construction of new Mercy unit complete and more - June 5, 2020
- DC Comics moves on from Cockeysville-based Diamond Comic Distributors - June 5, 2020
- Baltimore Farmers’ Market & Bazaar set to open June 14 with restrictions - June 5, 2020