Rescue plan

City Council approves guidelines for allocating federal bailout funds to local nonprofits

By Mike Cook

At its May 2 regular meeting, the Las Cruces City Council adopted guidelines for the allocation of $12.4 million under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF).

The vote will advance 21 local applicants for funding “through the process,” the city said in a news release.

The council authorized the city to accept the funds and begin evaluating applications for funding last August, but filed the request for proposals process in February due to concerns about eligibility criteria.

Under the new guidelines, the funds are expected to be awarded in July.

“These are huge and very impactful grants,” Councilor Johana Bencomo said at the meeting.

The initial 21 applicants approved for funding are: The Boys and Girls Club of Las Cruces Fundraising Campaign; Southern New Mexico Catholic Charities; Covid-19 Recovery Fund; Southern New Mexico Community Action Agency Guaranteed Basic Income Project; Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico/Bitwise; Equip Las Cruces; Community Options, Inc. Schedule it daily; Crosstown Apartments; Desert community welfare, cultivate community welfare; Doña Ana Arts Council, artists’ living/working space planning; Downtown Las Cruces Partnership Incubator; El Calvario United Methodist Church, Casitas del Calvario; Economic and educational recovery and renewal through a community creative space; Families and Youth, Inc.; Jardin de los Niños Flourishing Families Infant Mental Health Program; La Casa, Inc., facilitating access to health, social services and housing; LiftFund, revitalizes small businesses in Las Cruces; Mesilla Valley Habitat for Humanity, “Empower, a Community Collaboration”; the Mesilla Valley Community of Hope Housing Risk Mitigation Fund; Ngage New Mexico; New Mexico Community Development and Housing Corporation; rehabilitation of Oak Street apartments; and outdoor recreation.

These 21 applications will be reviewed to determine their eligibility under the newly adopted guidelines, said the director of the city’s economic development department, Elizabeth Teeters. Any applicant deemed ineligible for funding will have the opportunity to meet with city program administrators to discuss their applications and possibly make adjustments, Teeters said.

ARPA funds have been granted to the city “to respond to the public health emergency of Covid-19 and its negative economic impacts,” the city’s press release said.

The city will conduct a second audit of the process once recipients have been approved and the first disbursements have been made, Teeters said, adding that “the federal government monitors all federal funds and the use of those funds, which includes audits”.