Federal funds available in IRC to help people affected by the pandemic

In March Indian River County was made available $28 million in federal CARES Act funding. The CARES Act is a program that provides a wide-range of financial assistance to eligible communities and regions as they respond to and recover from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. The funding is set to expire on Dec. 30. And, according to IRC officials, the Board of County Commissioners plans to spend less than half of its available $28 million, leaving nearly $14.5 million unspent, saying the funds are not needed.

“Indian River County has allocated sufficient funds for programs, and we are not aware of a need above or below what we plan to spend,” said Kristen Daniels, director of the county Management and Budget Office. “We have an ample amount of programs available to help people.”

Unbelievably, the availability of these funds has not been adequately publicized to our IRC residents. While many IRC residents are in dire straits — Democrats, Republicans and independents — the Democrats of Indian River are dumbfounded as small business owners, laid-off employees, and individuals, indicate they are totally unaware of the availability of these funds.

To exacerbate this lack of information being disseminated to our residents, the story reported in TCPalm.com was originally available online only for newspaper subscribers, not the public more generally in spite of it being a COVID-related news story. Residents who don’t subscribe to the information cannot open the article.

The Democrats of Indian River call on the county commission to immediately initiate a widespread information campaign to make our residents who have been affected by the pandemic aware of the CARES Act funding so they can access funds that can help nonprofits, food drives, small businesses, individuals who can’t make mortgage and rent payments, and provide personal protective equipment.

— Adriana de Kanter, Vero Beach, is the chair of Democrats of Indian River.