City distributes more than $20 million of the total $23.5 million in federal coronavirus relief funds

By Jane McClure

Saint Paul’s guaranteed-income pilot program was granted $293,592 of the more than $20 million in coronavirus relief funds approved on September 23 by the City Council. An initiative of Mayor Melvin Carter, the guaranteed-income program will provide a monthly stipend of $500 to families chosen at random in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods.

A total of $1.5 million is available for the pilot program, the rest coming from charitable foundations and other
private donations.

The coronavirus relief comes through the federal CARES Act. It can be used to pay expenses incurred between March 1 and November 15 during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The money cannot be used as revenue replacement at a time when sales taxes and other forms of city income are down.


Mayor Melvin Carter
Mayor Melvin Carter has pushed through funding for a pilot program providing a guaranteed income of $500 per month for some of Saint Paul's poorest families. Photo by Brad Stauffer

Of the CARES Act allocations, the city will spend $12 million on emergency response costs for staff, HVAC improvements in city facilities and personal protective equipment for first responders.

Another $9.5 million is being devoted to economic recovery, including help for businesses and cultural organizations and relief for families and small


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One million dollars will go to various programs to support homeless people, and $950,000 will help pay for service delivery modifications during the pandemic by the city’s water utility, parks and recreation department and public library system.

The vote allocates most of the $23.5 million the city had available in CARES Act funding.


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