Hillsborough County secured nearly $257 million from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The Hillsborough County Rapid Response Recovery Assistance Program (R3) directs these funds to a variety of wide-ranging programs designed to assist residents and businesses directly impacted by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. This comprehensive initiative is targeted to provide immediate relief, long-term community health and stability, and a full and robust economic recovery.
The R3 Program will be used in conjunction with other federal and state funding and programs to assist residents and businesses with a demonstrated economic injury from COVID-19. The funds are being used to address unique community needs and local economic conditions that may not have been addressed by the broader federal and state programs.
How CARES Act Funds Can Be Used
By law, CARES Act funds provided to Hillsborough County can only be used to cover costs that:
- are necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID–19);
- were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27, 2020 (the date of enactment of the CARES Act) for the State or government; and
- were incurred during the period that begins on March 1, 2020, and ends on December 30, 2020.
These expenditures are distinct from the types of expenditures that may be reimbursed by FEMA as part of COVID-19 disaster declarations. The CARES Act funds may be used for COVID-19 related expenses that are not likely to be reimbursed by FEMA.
Approved Funding Allocations
On May 6, the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved spending the CARES Act money on the R3 programs outlined below. These programs involve many nonprofit community partners and will be available across Hillsborough County, including within the cities of Tampa, Temple Terrace, and Plant City.
COVID-19 Economic Recovery Programs
Workforce Training: $30 million - $60 million
- $25 million earmarked on May 6 for CareerSource Tampa Bay programs.
- Grants to assist Hillsborough County residents in hardest-hit industries (hospitality, entertainment, food and beverage) to retrain and retool skills for in-demand industries and occupations.
- Grants to assist Hillsborough County for-profit businesses to retrain or upskill existing employees to meet new market demands and retain workers.
- Grants to fund paid work experience programs for displaced workers.
- Career connections to training providers and employers supporting the program.
- Augments dislocated worker training programs of CareerSource Tampa Bay (CSTB) without the federal regulations and restrictions.
- Grants to residents for training materials, equipment, and other required items.
Kickstart Small Business: $60 million
- Financial assistance to provide an immediate infusion of capital for small businesses economically injured by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic
Back to Work: $26 million
- A payroll incentive to businesses economically injured by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic to hire or rehire workers
Safe at Work Matching: $20 million
- A matching reimbursement for the cost of qualifying workplace improvements directly related to mitigating the spread of COVID-19
COVID-19 Life Safety Programs
Combined funding: $35 million - $60 million
Social Services Assistance
- $15 million for Utility and Housing Assistance
- Funds already committed.
Direct Community Services
- Provide direct access to testing sites and services, protective equipment, and supplies needed to prevent and protect low- to moderate-income communities from contracting and spreading the COVID-19 coronavirus.
- Provides housing and shelter for those displaced by COVID-19.
- Provide for acquisition and leasing space for expanded COVID-19 testing and supplies, acquisition and leasing of distribution of medical and protective supplies, including sanitizing products, personal protective equipment, and protective barriers to include but not limited to social workers, child protection services, child welfare officers, and direct service providers for older adults and individuals with disabilities in community settings, and other public health, safety workers, or service workers.
- Provide support to nonprofit facilities and child-care centers for sanitation and improvement of social distancing measures, to enable compliance with COVID-19 public health precautions.
- Provide for the disinfection of public areas and private nonprofit organizations and other facilities, e.g., assisted living facilities, nursing homes, in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
- Facilitate distance learning, including technological improvements, in connection with school closings to enable compliance with COVID-19 precautions.
Local Food Purchase and Distribution
- Hillsborough County will partner with regional and local food banks to purchase fresh produce, dairy, and meat from Hillsborough County producers.
- The food banks, community and faith-based organizations, and other nonprofits will provide the products to county residents in need due to COVID-19.
Feeding Tampa Bay
- Provide 64,000 meals per month to vulnerable residents such as seniors, displaced families, Tampa’s Tent City Project, and other populations that are sheltering in place to reduce their risk to COVID-19 and to comply with public health precautions, including social distancing.
- Hire 40 furloughed workers part-time for the Feeding Tampa Bay Warehouse to help support receiving and distributing food resources for the COVID-19 Food Relief Programs due to warehouse’s volunteer base decreasing due to pandemic.
- Provide groceries for meals to support increased demand, from 250,000 meals per month to 2 million meals per month at various distribution sites. Groceries will be for residents with food insecurities due to loss of employment, reduction in work hours, or who are affected financially by COVID-19 in other ways.
- Provide groceries for meals to support increased demand, from 28,800 meals per month to 118,000 meals per month for displaced families and vulnerable populations that have food insecurities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Provide 225,000 bagged Grab-and-Go Meals at meal and distribution sites, seven days a week, to vulnerable populations that are sheltering in place to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 and to comply with public health precautions, including social distancing.
Government and Community Facility and Operational Safety Improvements
- Pursue permanent employee telework programs to improve social distancing.
- Provide enhanced sanitizing improvements and activities at community venues including parks, libraries, development services, etc.
- Fund COVID-19-related safety improvements requested by Constitutional Officers (Hillsborough County Sheriff/jail, Tax Collector, Property Appraiser, Clerk of the Circuit Court, and Supervisor of Elections) and other outside agencies funded by the County such as courts, Environmental Protection Commission, etc.
- Make personal protective equipment available to employees and residents when at government facilities to enhance public safety.
- Make permanent safety improvements at government facilities and community venues.
- Evaluate and fund needs associated with new hurricane shelter strategies.