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Nye County COVID Relief Program coming to a close, only public program remains open

With nearly $2 million remaining following the conclusion of Nye County’s CARES Act assistance program at the end of 2020, Nye County utilized the leftover monies to create its COVID Relief Program and now, with a much more robust response from the community this time around, that program is nearing its closure as well.

Of the five separate portions of the COVID Relief Program, only one is still open for applications, that for the public rental, mortgage and utility assistance program. Nye County is no longer accepting applications for the small business, direct utility assistance, sub-entity or nonprofit segments of its COVID Relief Program.

The decision to close out all sections of the program except for the public assistance was made during the Nye County Commission’s Tuesday, April 20 meeting, with Nye County staff explaining that the amount of funding requests represented by the all of the applications that had already been submitted under the COVID Relief Program as a whole exceeded the amount of funding the county had available.

Nye County Grants Administrator Samantha Kramer detailed that as of April 19, there had been 90 small business grant applications submitted, along with 23 applications for public rental assistance, four for nonprofits, seven for direct utility assistance and one for sub-entities, with a second sub-entity application expected in short order.

“It spent so slowly the first round,” Nye County Commission Chair Debra Strickland said, referring to the difference in the public response to the CARES Act funding program from 2020 versus the response to the COVID Relief Program. “We took off all the requirements and boy, it spent then!”

With financial resources not meeting the apparent need, the commissioners and applicants going before the board that afternoon started to wrangle with the numbers, shifting funding amounts around in an attempt to cover as many of the requests as possible.

One of the first moves taken was by the Northern Nye County Hospital District, which had submitted an application under the CARES Act funding program in 2020 but which had not received approval at that time. Instead, the county had earmarked a total of $800,000 for that application, which was then added to the originally allotted $1.9 million for the COVID Relief Program, specifically for the sub-entities category.

The hospital district had put in a request under the COVID Relief Program for approximately $738,000 but hospital district board of trustees chair Tim Gamble offered to reduce the amount to just $498,000. This would allow the county to use $200,000 for the town of Amargosa’s expected application for an emergency generator and push the remaining sub-entity funds to another segment of the COVID Relief Program.

With that move, there was enough funding available to address all four of the nonprofit applications that had been received.

Nonprofit Tails of Nye County was then awarded $30,000 to bolster its low-cost spay and neuter services, while the Nevada Rural Counties Retired Senior and Volunteer Program, better known as RSVP, was awarded $11,700 to support its services, including its transportation program which allows seniors and disabled adults to ability to receive free rides to the grocery store, medical appointments and more.

Faith for Action, a nonprofit that offers a variety of assistance programs to the community, including food, transportation, clothing and more, had originally requested $113,000 but, with the discussion that morning regarding the straining of financial resources, the group reduced its request and was awarded $80,000. Finally, the fourth nonprofit to receive funding that afternoon was Our Lady of the Valley Roman Catholic Church, which provides spiritual services, emotional support and healing, counseling, low-cost food and more. The Catholic Church was awarded $45,000 for its programs.

Kramer then explained that the small business grant program was over budget by more than $1 million, with Strickland reiterating that those applications would be processed on a first-come-first-served basis. A large majority of the funding for the nonprofits, sub-entity and direct utility assistance programs had been allocated and therefore, all four of these programs were closed at the conclusion of the discussion on April 20.

Members of the public seeking assistance with their rent, mortgage or utility bills can still submit applications under the COVID Relief Program. For help with filing an application under this portion of the program contact Nye County Health and Human Services at 775-751-7095.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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