SALT LAKE CITY – With COVID-19 continuing to create hardships for Salt Lake City residents and businesses, Mayor Mendenhall’s administration presented a series of budget amendment proposals to the City Council aimed at helping Salt Lakers through the pandemic.
“This pandemic continues to present big challenges for our community and we are committed to helping residents weather this generational storm,” said Mayor Mendenhall.
Budget amendment 4, which was presented to the City Council Tuesday afternoon, includes proposed funding for Raise Up SLC, food security, a City apprenticeship program, business assistance, and a winter coat drive program.
Raise Up SLC
Mayor Mendenhall proposed nearly $1.5 million to fund Raise Up SLC, which will push forward distribution of the Salt Laker Card. The card is a no-fee debit card that can be used for essential expenses. It is aimed toward families and individuals who did not qualify for or couldn’t access federal stimulus money, with an emphasis on undocumented and mixed-residency-status families, refugees, and others who were living below the poverty threshold before COVID-19 hit.
This allocation would be added to a $50,000 donation from the Muslim World League, with the assistance of the World Trade Center Utah, and $25,000 that the City previously contributed. Salt Lake was one of eight cities and two states selected by the non-profit Accelerator for America to receive technical assistance and initial funding to set up and administer a financial assistance program for residents whose livelihoods have been hard-hit by COVID- 19.
Nourish to Flourish
A proposed $100,000 would go to the Nourish to Flourish initiative, a program working to eliminate food insecurity in the community while at the same time, providing a lifeline to local restaurants that have been so devastated by the pandemic. The Lightspark Foundation, a local §501(c)(3) entity, administers the initiative, which pays local restaurants to prepare meals that are then donated to non-profit service providers.
The initiative has provided over 45,000 meals to those in need since May 2020, and has paid over $335,000 to local restaurants. Currently nine local restaurants participate, including Spice Kitchen Incubator, Diversion Eatery, Publik Kitchen, Greek Souvlaki, Moochies, Trio Cafe, Himalayan Kitchen, Premier Catering (operated by the Pacific Island Business Alliance), and Pulp Lifestyle Kitchen. Participating service providers are Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake, Neighborhood House, YouthCity, Salt Lake County Youth Services, Asian Association of Utah, International Rescue Committee, Catholic Community Services, Housing Connect, Columbus Community Center, Utah Community Action and Promise South Salt Lake.
City Apprentice Program
With challenges facing high school students looking to enter the workforce during the pandemic, Mayor Mendenhall is proposing nearly half a million dollars to start a City apprenticeship program aimed at helping participants gain valuable on the job training and work experience with Salt Lake City in technical, trade, and other hard-to-fill jobs.
Four City departments have identified over 30 positions that could be part of the program. Candidates in the apprentice program could be eligible to transition from the part-time roles into full-time employment with the City.
RDA Sublessee Grants
Mayor Mendenhall also proposed $200,000 for assistance to property owners and businesses that are sublessees to the City’s Redevelopment Agency and have had to pause operations or limit capacity due to the pandemic. Potential grant recipients include small businesses, non-profits, retail establishments, bars, and restaurants, mostly in the Central Business District.
Operation Warm is a nonprofit organization that has been providing brand new winter coats nationally to children in need for over 20 years. The organization’s goal is to provide 500,000 coats for kids throughout the United States. The organization is trying to meet increased need for coats this winter due to the pandemic.The Mayor’s budget proposal slates $25,000 in CARES Act funding to assist the organization’s work in Salt Lake City.