City Launches Community Relief Fund

The City of Alameda is currently soliciting donations from the community to help those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

At its May 19 meeting, the City Council unanimously approved the “Alameda Strong” community relief fund. The fund, which will be financed solely by community donations, will provide grants to small businesses, nonprofits and renters financially affected by the shelter-in-place order due to the coronavirus. 

Small businesses and non-profits will receive up to $7,500 — sole proprietor businesses will receive a maximum of $3,750. Alameda renters will receive one-month’s rent, not to exceed $3,500. The amount of grants allocated will depend on the amount raised. 

City staff met with 11 business association representatives, including the board members and executive directors from the Downtown Alameda Business Association, the West Alameda Business Association and the Chamber of Commerce to discuss creating the community fund. One of their concerns was how the money would be allocated. 

City staff recommended 60 percent of money donated be allocated to small businesses, 20 percent to nonprofits and 20 percent to renters. The business leaders felt this may unintentionally divide the community over how to distribute the limited funds. 

City staff wrote in its report to the Council that the business community felt the Council should create three separate funds (renters, businessowners, nonprofits) and prospective donors should choose which fund they would like to contribute to. However, Councilmember Jim Oddie expressed concern that if three separate funds were created, one of the funds may not receive enough money to offer grants. Council decided to offer the three different options to donate to.

The “Alameda Strong” community fund comes after the City Council approved the $600,000 small business relief grant program in April. The program is offering 80 small business owners one-time grants of $7,500 each. The city received 238 requests by the application deadline of May 7. 

Businesses that receive this grant will not be eligible for the “Alameda Strong” grant. The city also plans to approve $600,000 via the Community Development Block Grant CARES Act for emergency rent relief available to low-income tenants at its June 2 meeting. 

The city and members of the business association community will help market the “Alameda Strong” fund. 

To contribute to the fund, visit www.alamedastrong.org. The city is looking to raise more than $1 million. Donors can contribute to one or all of the three relief funds.