Using funds from the city of Bakersfield, Kern County Supervisors will consider reviving the Kern Recovers forgivable loan program during their Tuesday board meeting.
In addition, supervisors will consider a $1 million plan to house agricultural workers who have contracted or been exposed to coronavirus in local hotels in order to prevent the disease from spreading within their communities.
The two votes come as Bakersfield leaders decide how to spend their portion of the CARES Act dollars allocated to the city from the state, and the county rounds out the last funds it has received directly from the federal government.
The Bakersfield City Council recently designated $33.5 million in CARES Act funding, $5 million of which will be used to aid small businesses and nonprofits impacted by COVID-19.
On Tuesday, supervisors are scheduled to sign a memorandum of understanding with the city, allowing the funds to be distributed through the Kern Recovers program. The $30 million program ran out of funds in early August, aiding 937 businesses with loans averaging about $30,300.
Under the program’s revival, small businesses physically located within the Bakersfield city limits could be eligible to receive a portion of the $3 million offered through Kern Recovers. The program will provide $2 million to nonprofits operating in the Bakersfield metro area, and $275,000 will be used to cover administrative fees.
“By utilizing the existing County program design and infrastructure, the City and County working together can avoid duplicative efforts, expedite program delivery, and more efficiently use taxpayer resources,” a letter to the supervisors signed by Chief Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop read.
The program would run until the end of the year if funds are not exhausted before then.
Also on the agenda is Housing for the Harvest, which would use $1 million of Kern’s roughly $8.6 million remaining undesignated CARES Act funds to provide hotel rooms for agriculture workers exposed to or sick with COVID-19.
The county says the program will help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 by providing safe and suitable places to isolate farmworkers and food processors. Community Action Partnership of Kern has been tapped to administer the program, which is a partnership with the state. The county hopes the program will help increase testing and contribute to Kern’s goal of reaching a lower tier on the state’s coronavirus reopening protocol.
The county currently sits in the most restrictive tier, and will need to experience a further dip in daily coronavirus cases before it can open businesses more broadly.
CAPK would provide transportation to the hotel sites as well as meals and general wellness checks.