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Cooper approves pass-through funding from American Rescue Plan

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has signed a COVID-19 relief package that includes about $6.4 billion in pass-through federal grants for education, child care, public health, long-term care, food benefits and housing and rental assistance.

“It’s critical that these funds be used to emerge from the pandemic even stronger than before with rent and utility assistance, food for children, help for local governments and help for children trying to catch up in school,” Cooper said in a statement Monday after the signing.

The funding was provided through the American Rescue Plan Act, which was signed by President Joe Biden in March. North Carolina received more than $16 billion to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic through the federal measure, Senate appropriation leaders said.

Senate Bill 172 created state, local and capital reserve funds so the General Assembly can allocate the remaining federal aid in the future.

More than $3 billion was set aside for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, and an additional $21.5 million was allotted to charter and residential schools.

A dozen counties received rental and utility assistance funds directly from the federal government outlined in the bill. The largest tranche was $49 million, which was earmarked for Mecklenburg County.

The biggest rental assistance allocation from the state was more than $107 million for counties categorized under Region G, which includes Alamance, Caswell, Davidson, Montgomery, Randolph, Rockingham, Davie, Stokes, Surry and Yadkin counties. The bill also sets aside $273 million for homeownership assistance. Lawmakers said the money would be granted to residents who apply based on their needs.

Local governments also will receive more than $700 million for fiscal recovery through the measure, lawmakers said.

The deadline for parents to apply for a $335 grant to help cover costs associated with remote learning was extended to July 1 under the bill.

Many low-income families that qualified for the program did not apply, according to a report released last month by the state auditor’s office. The previous deadline for the Extra Credit Grant program was May 31.

SB 172 authorizes new grants for learning loss administered through the YMCA of the Triangle Area. It also raises the cap from $25,000 to $35,000. It directs the state budget office to reallocate $10 million of unspent federal coronavirus aid to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety’s Division of Emergency Management for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance Program.

“As North Carolina and the rest of the country move forward and rebuild in the wake of a global pandemic, these are needed funds that will get businesses back on track and the economy moving in the right direction,” House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, said. “The passage of S172 will ensure that these federal dollars get to those North Carolina businesses and citizens who need it.”

The Senate and House approved SB 172 on Thursday.

This article was originally posted on Cooper approves pass-through funding from American Rescue Plan

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