$300K headed to Black Belt communities facing pandemic costs

$300K headed to Black Belt communities facing pandemic costs
$300,000 is headed to help rural Alabama cities and counties battling the costs of COVID-19, thanks to the Regions Foundation. (Source: Regions Foundation)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - $300,000 is headed to help rural Alabama cities and counties battling the costs of COVID-19, thanks to the Regions Foundation.

The Regions Foundation says the financial commitment will support two non-profits: Hope Enterprise Corporation and the Black Belt Community Foundation (BBCF). Together the two non-profits will provide financing to help municipalities and counties cover pandemic-related expenses.

According to a release, municipalities and counties can seek reimbursement for the financing for those expenses through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Securities Act (CARES Act) and Alabama Senate Bill 161.

“We know that not every community has the capacity to access CARES funds made available by reimbursement,” said Felecia Lucky, president of the BBCF. “To qualify for help, a community must spend its funds to be reimbursed. If those funds don’t exist, then residents are at a disadvantage in the fight against COVID.”

The Regions Foundation’s financial commitment to Hope Enterprise Corporation and the BBCF will come in two forms, the release indicates. First, a $150,000 program-related investment (or PRI) from the foundation will provide up-front lending capital for the project. Second, a $150,000 grant will be available to support a loss-reserve pool that will help cover any potential losses if some cities or counties are unable to repay their line of credit.

“This initiative will assist financially strapped counties and cities in the Black Belt that don’t have the financial wherewithal to spend money up front in order to access the funds they need to fight COVID in their communities,” Sen. Bobby Singleton, D-Greensboro, added. “But for this collaboration we have brought together to create this fund, many poverty-stricken communities that are struggling would not be able to access critical CARES Act funding.”

The Regions Foundation says additional funding will be issued to nonprofits and other organizations in the coming months as part of a broader, $5 million coronavirus-recovery commitment announced by Regions earlier this year.

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