New Castle County will contribute an additional $136 million from the County’s federal CARES Act allocation to support six statewide programs that include unemployment assistance.
New Castle County is the only county or city government in the nation to send CARES Act money to state programs. Under the CARES Act, counties with more than 500,000 residents received funding mainly on the assumption that local units of government operate social service and public health agencies that needed funds to deal with Covid-19.
The state handles social services and public health.
To date, New Castle County has committed to spending more than $170 million to assist the state in paying for state programs during the pandemic.
New Castle County and the State of Delaware developed a three-step approach for the funding agreement.
They determined the total cost of all six statewide programs, then determined the percentage of the cost of those six statewide programs to benefit county residents and businesses. Finally, they determined the cost-sharing between the State of Delaware and New Castle County.
“This unprecedented collaboration is necessary in a pandemic, to make sure Delawareans receive unemployment benefits, to ensure parents have access to quality and affordable child care, to provide the best Covid-19 testing program in the country, to make sure no Delawarean faces eviction due to Covid-19, and to provide restaurants, small businesses, and non-profits lifelines through this historically challenging time,” said County Executive Matt Meyer.
“We’re grateful to New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer for providing these much-needed CARES Act dollars to the state and thinking beyond New Castle County to support all Delawareans, especially our struggling restaurant workforce,” said Carrie Leishman, CEO of the Delaware Restaurant Association. “We look forward to working with county and state officials to leave no stone unturned in finding ways to support the state’s largest small business employer. This lifeline comes at a vital moment time when 3,000 more hospitality workers have filed for unemployment since the latest restrictions.”
According to Matthew Chase, executive director of the National Association of Counties, “New Castle County, led by County Executive Meyer and his colleagues on the Council, continue to demonstrate impactful leadership and innovation during the national COVID pandemic. To our knowledge, New Castle County is the only county in the nation using their direct recipient dollars from the U.S. Treasury to support statewide programs, showcasing sound intergovernmental coordination and leveraging of resources with state officials. These actions demonstrate the county’s focus on problem-solving and addressing the most pressing needs of residents.”
Statewide programs that New Castle County CARES Act funding will support:
Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund (county contribution: $67.5 million)
Based on actual unemployment claims through mid-September and estimates through the rest of the year, the total statewide amount of Covid-19 unemployment claims paid for the forty-two-week period, March 15 to December 30, 2020, will be $273 million. Approximately 55% of the statewide claims are from residents in New Castle County.
Essential childcare program (county contribution: $38 million)
The state childcare program provides supplemental benefits to centers during the pandemic. During the various stages of the Governor’s State of Emergency, many facilities have had to, and continue to, either reduce their capacity or close completely. In order to maintain an infrastructure of childcare facilities post-Covid-19, this grant/subsidy program was created. The total cost of the program state-wide is estimated to be $128 million.
Statewide testing program (county contribution: $20.6 million)
The program will continue to provide access to testing regardless of symptoms to all residents of Delaware. Statewide costs are expected to be approximately $80 million.
Statewide contract tracing program (county contribution: $3.1 million)
Program for contractual and technology expenses to operate a contact tracing program in Delaware. Statewide cost is expected to be $12 million.
Enhanced rent & utility program (county contribution: $4.7 million)
It is estimated that 70% of the recipients of this program reside in New Castle County. The program provides emergency housing assistance to renters affected by shutdowns, closures, layoffs, reduced work hours, or unpaid leave due to the COVID-19 health crisis. The Delaware Housing Assistance Program (DEHAP) provides eligible households up to $1,500 in assistance, with payments made directly to the property owner or utility company.
Hospitality Emergency Loan Program (county contribution: $1.8 million)
Program established to assist hospitality-related businesses in Delaware that have been economically impacted by COVID-19. No-interest loans of up to $10,000 per business per month to help the estimated 2,700 affected Delaware businesses in the hospitality industry cover immediate, unavoidable expenses. Statewide program expected to cost $8.5 million with an estimated 48 percent of applicants are in New Castle County.