10 Things You Can Do to Help Your Community Through the COVID-19 Crisis
by Aaron Thompson, on April 8, 2020 at 11:09 AM
State and local governments are on the frontlines of this crisis. Here are a few ideas for how local leaders can help their communities restore morale and stability during this time.
Document, Document, Document
Save all documentation related to expenses that your local government and community are incurring during the response. As funds are reimbursed later or opportunities to seek additional reimbursement funds are made available, having proper expense documentation will have a meaningful impact on your finances. This documentation is extremely vital to supporting your claims for reimbursement from your federal and state governments.
Communicate with Your Emergency Management Agencies
Make sure to constantly be in touch with your local emergency management agency. If there are needs for your community that you are unable to meet, make sure to communicate it to them to seek out additional resources that are available.
Assist Your Healthcare Agencies
Right now, many of our healthcare agencies have a severe shortage of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). While our federal and state governments are doing what they can to procure more supplies, are there additional resources in your community that could work to produce additional PPE?
Many apparel factories have switched to making masks, educational institutions are using 3D printers to make face shields, and distilleries are switching production to hand sanitizer. Be creative and think outside the box about what resources you can help gather through relationships in your town to help those on the frontline in the health field.
Make Essential Services and Payments as Easy as Possible
The services you provide as a local government are critical for your community. Your revenue must keep flowing to administer these essential services. Take necessary precautions with your employees to ensure that they can both work safely and remotely to process payments and other necessary tasks. For customers, if possible, allow them to pay for their services online.
In our previous article, "Getting Coronavirus Relief Funds for Your Community Starts Now", we outline how the CARES Act provides additional funds to aide local governments.
These funds include:
- FEMA Disaster Relief Funds to support public assistance efforts that your community can seek as a reimbursement.
- The Coronavirus Relief Fund that provides $150 Billion to state and local governments for response related efforts through the US Department of Treasury.
- Additionally, funds were made available to frequently-used-by-local-government federal grant programs and efforts including the Community Block Development Grants, the Economic Development Administration, Affordable Housing and Homelessness Assistance Programs, and the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant.
Consider how these funds can be utilized to help lift up your community later this year. As more information is made available, we will give you the rundown for accessing these funds.
If You Have Issues, Communicate with Your Federal & State Officials
If the federal or state response isn’t running smoothly, it’s important to let your Congressional Delegation & State Legislators know. Most Congressional Offices have field staff who's duty it is to represent them and communicate with you.
This communication is important for three reasons:
- Ensuring the emergency management and response systems put in place are operating effectively for your (and their) constituents.
- As additional legislation is considered to further respond to the crisis, it is important that they have a clear understanding of what is and isn’t working on the ground level. You know, you are there.
- If there are additional ways that they can go to bat for you, they will.
As these leaders make policy on your behalf, if they don’t know about a problem, they can’t try to help fix it. It is imperative that you impart your concerns upon them.
Help Businesses In Your Community
Businesses are hurting. Previously reliable revenue streams could be non-existent at the moment. Listen to the businesses in your community and help support them as needed as they work to get through this.
A few ways to do this would include:
- Checking in. Doing a friendly check-in with a phone call and ask them how things are going.
- Promote businesses that are open. For example, if carry-out food is an option, list all businesses that are offering this and post it on your community’s Facebook page.
- Paycheck Protection Program. Make sure that all of your businesses have information about the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program that was passed as part of the CARES Act.
- The program provides up to $10 Million in support per small business that has been affected by COVID-19.
- The aid is in the form of a forgivable loan if businesses continue to meet payroll and other requirements. Interested applicants can learn more here.
- Typical SBA (U.S. Small Business Administration) lenders can execute this loan but all federally insured depository institutions, federally insured credit unions, and Farm Credit System can participate.
- If these institutions aren’t already a SBA Certified Lender, encourage them to apply to assist with this program.
Highlight the Good in Your Community
Despite the uncertainty, people, businesses, and non-profit organizations have stepped up in major ways across the country to serve others. Use your bully pulpit to communicate the good that is going on. Use traditional media sources such as TV, radio or the newspaper. Facebook is also a great place to post encouraging and positive community news to boost your community's morale.
Communicate With Your Citizens
It is extremely important that your citizens hear from you. Considering hosting a Facebook Townhall and allowing citizens to ask questions.
Include other leaders in the community that they would like to hear from such as:
- A Public Health Department Director.
- An official from the local hospital that can reinforce the importance of social distancing and good hygiene.
- Have a staff member from the local workforce board highlight other essential needs such as unemployment insurance that might have recently updated processes for signing up.
Plan Ahead for the Return to Normal
Taking these actions will help your community be in better shape for when things return to normal. However, think ahead. As a local leader, you know your community better than anyone. What can you be doing now to prepare for the transition out of the crisis?
How Localgov Can Help
We understand that governments nationwide are facing an unprecedented challenge to maintain essential services. Localgov can assist your community by facilitating remote access to government services for citizens and employees through our tax collection and accountability software.
Under the Presidential Disaster Declaration, Public Assistance Funds are potentially eligible to be spent on Localgov solutions as they assist in temporary facilities for:
- Essential community services
- Provide protection for an eligible facility
- Remove health and safety hazards
- Allows for emergency operations centers to coordinate and direct the response to a disaster
We have expert grant writing consultants that can help you submit these activities so they can be potentially paid for by the disaster relief fund. If you have any questions about the reimbursements outlined in this article or about how Localgov can help you during this time, please contact us.
Beyond collections, we have conducted over 5,000 audits for 350 municipalities, finding them millions in revenue on a contingency basis—if we don’t find money, you don’t owe money.
We are able to get you online in less than 24 hours, just let us know you are ready!