WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Wednesday, the city of Wilkes-Barre unveiled its plan on how to use the federal COVID relief monies from the American Recovery Plan.
Wilkes-Barre city officials say it’s all about helping as many people as possible recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and they are trying to get the word out. You may be eligible to get a helping hand.
Many of these COVID relief programs offered by the city will have income requirements.
“How do we get money back to the folks that have been adversely impacted economically because of the pandemic,” said Wilkes-Barre Mayor George Brown.
Mayor Brown says they have a plan to help as many people as possible. The city will have $37.1 million to help the community recover.
The blueprint includes: money for home improvements, home purchases, business start up funds and money to nonprofit agencies. Rosa Bellio owns Franco’s restaurant on South Main Street in Wilkes-Barre.
“Businesses like me, it would mean the world, honestly to help us through. It’s been a struggle the last year and a half or so. So to bring more businesses to downtown… The more traffic for me, the more traffic for everybody else. We all want to make money we all want to feed our families and any help we can get is a helping hand,” said Bellio.
The mayor’s plan also calls for a $300 stimulus check for people who are having COVID-19-related financial hardships. Wilkes-Barre resident Phyllis Monda says that it will help many people she knows.
“If it’s going to help because they lost their job, because they got COVID, because of their job; it’s going to help those people I agree 100 percent,” said Monda.
Nonprofit agencies like Keystone Mission, which provides services for the homeless in the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area, will also be eligible for COVID relief money.
“A 32 percent increase is what we are seeing in homelessness here in Northeastern Pennsylvania,” said Justin Behrens, executive director, CEO, Keystone Mission.
The nonprofit services can only be enhanced by an influx of money.
“I’m excited about this because this actually starts to change lives. Dealing with homeless that’s what we do at Keystone Mission. That money can help bring people off the street and offer an opportunity they wouldn’t have had before,” said Behrens.
The mayor tells Eyewitness News that they will be releasing more information about the programs and when people or businesses can apply for the funds.