PROVIDENCE, RI – In an effort to help communities combat the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, U.S. Senator Jack Reed, the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD), led efforts to include a major infusion of federal funding under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). 

Senator Reed, who was part of the bipartisan working group that negotiated key provisions of the legislation, led efforts to include $5 billion for Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) and $4 billion for Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) to help communities rapidly respond to COVID-19 and the economic and housing impacts it is causing.

As a result of Reed’s leadership, $15,224,590 in CDBG, ESG, and Housing Opportunities for Persons With AIDS (HOPWA) funding will be coming to Rhode Island this week to help communities with COVID-related economic and housing disruption.  And Senator Reed says more help is on the way -- this is just the first tranche in a series of three distributions of federal aid coming to the state for these programs. 

Senator Reed is urging HUD to quickly release additional ESG grants to states and communities as soon as possible and says that providing emergency assistance to unhoused people is critical to stopping the spread of coronavirus and preventing health systems from becoming overwhelmed.

These federal funds may be used to support a variety of pressing economic priorities and affordable housing programs in several communities, including: Cranston, East Providence, Pawtucket, Providence, Warwick, Woonsocket, and Statewide recipients.  CDBG offers communities a flexible source of funding and the money can be used for a variety of community projects to support local economies, purchase medical equipment, provide food assistance like Meals on Wheels, and other projects.  And ESG grants provide critical assistance to vulnerable Rhode Islanders experiencing homelessness or at risk of becoming homeless.

“I am doing everything I can to invest in our communities and speed financial assistance to the state to combat coronavirus and the economic fallout.  These federal funds will help communities across the state address some of their most pressing needs.  CDBG funds are fast and flexible and can be directed to areas of greatest need.  The Governor, mayors, and local leaders are on the frontlines working hard and this federal funding is a down payment to assist them,” said Senator Reed, who, in addition to his leadership on the THUD Appropriations Subcommittee also serves as a senior member of the Banking Committee, which has jurisdiction over CDBG, ESG, and HOPWA.

Reed continued: “I fought for as much funding as Republicans would support for Emergency Solutions Grants because people experiencing homelessness are among the highest risk for COVID-19 exposure.  They are more vulnerable than people who can shelter safely in their own homes.  The Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless and other non-profits are valiantly doing everything they can to coordinate and strengthen support networks, keep people safe, and limit the spread of coronavirus.  But there is a real strain on resources.  Hopefully this federal funding helps them save lives.  Clearly the federal government must do more to help the homeless if we are going to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

The following communities will receive funding in this first round of CDBG, ESG, and HOPWA grants:

  • Cranston: $646,417 for CDBG
  • East Providence: $448,348 for CDBG
  • Pawtucket: $1,085,926 for CDBG and $548,676 for ESG ($1.63 million)
  • Providence: $3,109,568 for CDBG and $1,521,038.00 for ESG and $177,466 for HOPWA ($4.8 million)
  • Warwick: $575,033 for CDBG
  • Woonsocket: $785,912 for CDBG and $399,231 for ESG ($1.185 million)
  • Statewide: $3,227,111 for CDBG and $2,478,855 for ESG ($5.7 million)

Additionally, the State of Rhode Island Office of Housing and Community Development will receive $138,340 in HOPWA funds for the Sunrise Project and $82,669 in HOPWA funds for New Transitions.  Each help communities and non-profit organizations offer housing assistance and related supportive services to low-income individuals who have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.

The grant programs are administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the spending decisions are made with local control.

This federal funding comes on top of the $1.25 billion Senator Reed secured for Rhode Island through a $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund for states.