Senior centers, homeowners, farms get pandemic money

Senior centers are among the public organizations in Pierce County sharing $3.8 million of federal funding that was allocated through the county government in May to help the citizenry recover from and cope with impacts of the COVID-19 virus.

The largest share of the funding ($2.2 million) was earmarked for a new foreclosure prevention program designed to help homeowners who have lost income due to the virus outbreak. The program will cover foreclosure counseling for homeowners and up to $5,000 of mortgage-payment assistance per household.

A separate allocation of $660,000 was for senior centers. They could apply for one-time grants of $30,000 to help them meet pandemic-related expenses such as rent and cleaning of buildings, utilities, staff salaries, and acquiring personal protective equipment such as masks. County officials estimated the money could help at least 15,000 people who participate in senior center activities.

Emergency Food Network received $500,000 to help it keep buying food for food banks and mealsites. The money was for two months of operational costs, officials said.

Funding also was earmarked for agriculture-related purposes– $250,000 for buying disposable gowns, hand-sanitizer stations, masks and face shields, and gloves for workers in agricultural businesses, $220,000 for Tacoma Farmers Markets to buy a truck for collecting fresh farm produce from local farms two to four days a week and serving as a market on wheels, and $30,000 to support online sales by small farms.

The federal money comes from the CARES Act passed by Congress for emergency financial needs brought on by the pandemic.