Yesterday, the U.S. Department of the Treasury again updated its Coronavirus Relief Fund Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) web page. With this update, Treasury is again giving states and qualifying local governments greater flexibility in the use of Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) awards. The CRF, which was created in the federal CARES Act, provided grants to all 50 States, and to local units with populations of 500,000 or more.
No New Jersey municipalities (and only our nine most populous counties) qualified for direct aid. However, previous guidance gave the states and local recipients the authority to share their awards with non-qualifying local units. Governor Murphy has proposed setting aside $250 million of the State’s share, for non-qualifying local units. This would be administered by the Division of Local Government Services, with priority given to the 12 counties that did not receive direct CRF funding.
The new federal guidance, among other changes, authorizes the use of the funds to meet the local match requirements for FEMA Stafford Act aid. CRF funds can also, now, be distributed to non-profits for distribution to individuals in need of financial assistance, such as rent relief.
(Regardless of how the assistance is structured, the financial assistance provided would have to be related to COVID-19.) And CRF funds can now be used for tourism promotion, as expenses incurred to publicize the resumption of activities and steps taken to ensure a safe experience may be needed due to the public health emergency.