At least 12 of the 77 charities and non-profits awarded COVID-19 assistance grants in July by the mayor of the District of Columbia have yet to receive the money. A News-4 I-Team investigation finds some of the $10 million in promised “Hope Grants” has yet to be delivered, two months after the funding was announced.
The grants were announced in early summer as a program partnering with non-profit organizations to help provide personal protection equipment, social distancing measures and other public health awareness, such as connecting residents to testing sites. But the delays in delivering the grant money to organizations has stalled and imperiled some of the programs, the I-Team found.
“This was supposed to be an emergency grant. This is a problem,” said Taylar Nuevelle, a spokeswoman and volunteer for Empower DC, a non-profit which provides supplies and education programs for low-income Washington, D.C. residents.
Empower DC applied for the grants in May and was formally awarded $50,000 on July 1 by the office of DC Mayor Muriel Bowser. Nuevelle said the money was earmarked to buy personal protective equipment, including hand sanitizer and masks, for homeless and low-income families.
“We would provide thermometers, take temperatures and give them education. We would do things to limit the spread of Covid,” Nuevelle said. She and other officials with Empower DC said the money was expected to arrive by mid-July. Two months later, the funding has not yet been provided, according to Empower DC.
Nuevelle said the organization remains in contact with the office of the DC mayor, but have not yet been told why funding is delayed.
A News-4 I-Team review found at least eleven other organizations have not received their Hope Grant funding either as of this past weekend, including Palisades Village, a program supporting seniors in DC. A spokeswoman said the organization was awarded the grant to organize and operate workshops needed to educate seniors about the virus and provide protection.
Palisades Village executive director Andrea Saccoccia said, “It’s been a little bit of a problem to order some our equipment, because we don’t have the money to buy PPE and get the mailings out. It’s money we were hoping we were gonna get. We’re hopeful this money is coming through very soon.” The center was notified on Monday it had received the funding.
Neuvelle and Saccoccia told the I-Team they had completed all necessary application and grant paperwork and had not experienced delays in receiving DC grants in prior years.
The DC Mayor’s office declined requests for an interview to explain why some organizations have experienced delays in receiving Hope Grant funds. In a written statement, a spokeswoman said, "The Bowser Administration is grateful to our community partners for helping engage our vulnerable populations with resources to address COVID-19, as well as services and guidelines. A total of 77 community partners were selected for the DC Hope grants; of which to date, 65 have been approved for payment. We continue to work with the remaining 12 organizations to ensure their required information is received by the DC Office of Contracting and Procurement.”
The $10 million in DC Hope Grants are funded by the $2.2 trillion federal CARES ACT relief program approved by Congress in the Spring. It is administered by the DC Mayor’s Office of Community Affairs.
While announcing the program in May, Mayor Muriel Bowser said the funding is for “community partners to spread the word about testing. “The success of all of these programs will help us,” Bowser said.
Some of the other organizations awarded grants told the I-Team they have received at least some of the funds.
A spokeswoman for DC Homes for Hope said, “We were indeed honored to have been selected by the Mayor's Office for this opportunity. We have had continuous support from DC Hope since being awarded and look forward to a long relationship with the team.”
A spokesman for the Anacostia Coordinating Council said his organization has begun using its grant funding for COVID-19 outreach programs.
The Asian-American Youth Leadership Empowerment and Development group of DC said grant funding has been provided for the program. A spokesperson said the organization will use the grant to serve low-income families.
Reported by Scott MacFarlane, produced by Rick Yarborough, shot by Jeff Piper and edited by Lance Ing.