City of Cambridge Issues First Round of Checks to Residents from the Mayor’s Disaster Relief Fund Just Five Days After Launching Application Process

Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui and City Manager Louis A. DePasquale today announced that the City has distributed $88,308 to Cambridge residents and families from the Mayor’s Disaster Relief Fund—just five days after the fund began accepting applications. In its first three days of operation, the Mayor’s Disaster Relief Fund for COVID-19 received 645 applications. Of those submitted applications, 74 applications were approved and those checks were processed and mailed on April 17.

“Our goal has always been to provide relief to as many people as possible and as quickly as possible. Through the hard work of City staff over the last few weeks, our application for emergency funding went live on Monday. Today, just a few days later since our application launched, we cut the first set of checks to granted applicants,” said Sumbul Siddiqui, Cambridge Mayor.

“I am eager to provide these checks each week and to see the direct impact this emergency funding has on people’s lives. Whether to cover housing costs or utility bills, those who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 will be able to stay on track as we all navigate through this pandemic,” Mayor Siddiqui continued. “I am deeply grateful for all the individuals, businesses and foundations who helped make this swift support possible. This Fund’s growth and immediate dissemination of funds is a testament to how the City and their neighbors stand with those in need during this trying time. We continue our fundraising efforts to further increase our support of Cambridge residents and families.”

 “I am incredibly proud that within five days of opening the application process, the City has been able to issue over $88,300 in checks to Cambridge residents in need,” said Louis A. DePasquale, Cambridge City Manager. “I want to thank Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui for her leadership. She has been working closely with the City’s team to ensure we can rapidly distribute monies from the Mayor’s Disaster Relief Fund to individuals and families in our community who are experiencing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. I want to thank the City staff who are working incredibly hard to ensure we are quickly approving applications and providing residents the funds they need.”

The Mayor’s Disaster Relief Fund, which was developed in response to the public health crisis created by COVID-19, has been receiving donations to provide emergency assistance to individuals and families in Cambridge who are experiencing financial hardship as a result of the pandemic. Through the generosity of the public and local corporations, the Fund has raised more than $3.4 million to date. The City of Cambridge seeks to assist as many people as possible through these funds.

Under guidelines issued by the Fund’s Trustees, the City is prioritizing applicants who demonstrate a loss of income as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. The funds are being allocated for rent and/or utility payments or other household needs. Funds are also being allocated for mortgage payments for homes purchased through the City’s affordable homeownership programs. While residents may be eligible for 3 out of the 4 identified categories, no household will be eligible to receive more than an overall total payment of $4,000 at this time. Immigration status will not be a factor in determining applicant eligibility.

To date, the City has received 645 completed applications. Of those completed:

  • 94% of applicants are Cambridge tenants
  • 39% of applicants live in subsidized or public housing
  • 6% of applicants are homeowners through the City’s Affordable Homeownership Program

Applicants requested financial assistance for the following needs:

  • 67% for rental assistance
  • 6% for mortgage assistance
  • 56% for utility payments
  • 84% for household needs

Applicants can apply to the Mayor’s Disaster Relief Fund through the online application or by calling the Phone Assistance Line at 617-349-9797. In addition to English, the Phone Assistance Line offers multilingual support in Amharic, Arabic, Bangla, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Portuguese, and Spanish, with additional language support provided on an as-needed basis. Since the application launched on Monday, the Phone Assistance Line has received 289 calls, with 37% of calls directed to language lines for assistance. Of the calls received, 85% of callers requested assistance on starting a new application and 10% of callers had general questions about eligibility.

The Mayor’s Disaster Relief Fund is managed by over 50 City staff who provide support to applicants, review and approve applications, and manage the Fund’s technical system. Over 30 of these staff members are intake workers who assist applicants by phone and provide multilingual assistance as needed.

The City plans to mail checks for relief funds twice a week to ensure that Cambridge residents are receiving financial assistance as quickly as possible. City staff will continue to assist applicants and review and approve completed applications on a rolling basis.

Donations to the Fund can continue to be made at www.cambridgema.gov/mayorsdisasterrelieffund    

For additional information on submitting applications to the Mayor’s Disaster Relief Fund, visit www.cambridgema.gov/mayorsfund

Page was posted on 4/17/2020 10:11 AM
Page was last modified on 4/17/2020 4:49 PM
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