DC to Award 7,000 Microgrants to Contractors, Nonprofits, Small Businesses

The District's $33 million microgrant program will benefit qualified recipients such as musicians, restaurants and arts centers

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Some businesses, nonprofits and self-employed individuals in D.C. can expect relief soon as the D.C. government announced its $33 million microgrant program will be able to fund all 7,000 applicants, Mayor Muriel Bowser said at a press conference Wednesday.

The money is intended to support District-based workers and businesses including restaurants, retailers, arts organizations, freelancers and musicians who have been put in financial distress due to the coronavirus pandemic. Grants range from about $1,000 to $2,500.

Notification will begin going out to the first wave of qualified applicants Wednesday. The process is set to continue through May 8 (applications closed earlier this month).

The District launched the program with $25 million and then identified an additional $8 million, including $4 million from Events DC and $3 million of federal funds, according to Bowser.

The pandemic has had a “devastating impact” on the District’s economy, creating a $722 million gap in the current budget year. Over the past month and a half, nearly 82,000 people have applied for unemployment. More than 40,000 claims have been paid out and those who are gig workers and self-employed can now apply for pandemic unemployment assistance.

Bowser and administration officials on Wednesday gave updates on several efforts meant to prop up the local economy or protect residents' wallets during the state of emergency.

The city plans to assist 400 low-income families through a $1.5 million program, the mayor said Wednesday.

Attorney General Karl Racine said thus far, there have been 24 instances of landlords trying to increase rent or evict their tenants, even while those practices are prohibited and courts are not hearing evictions. All but two of those reports have been resolved, Racine said. The District has also ceased any debt collection activity.

The government is also working to address complaints regarding gyms and childcare demanding payment or refusing refunds, and working with parking lot owners to lower parking prices, Racine said.

Racine emphasized the importance of being aware of scams and advised citizens to not conduct business with people they don’t know.

“This is not the time to establish a new relationship,” Racine said.

According to Bowser, the District is looking to expand contact tracing from 65 to 200 contact tracers. Eventually, they will need around 900 people to do this work. There are a number of positions available the government is looking to fill: investigator, lead investigator and program manager. Bowser encouraged those who are interested to apply for the 13-month positions.

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