Community Assistance Grants and Rent Waiver Extension to Help Mitigate COVID-19 Impacts

2 years ago | by

AFL Masters

A $50,000 temporary grants program set up by Coffs Harbour City Council to help fund activities to enhance community wellbeing in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic will open to applications from local organisations from Monday, 12 October 2020.

“A lot of people have been hit hard by the social isolation from family and friends caused by the pandemic restrictions and border closures, so we’re keen to do what we can by assisting local community groups to run events and activities that bring people together safely or online,” said Coffs Harbour Mayor, Councillor Denise Knight.

The Community Organisation Assistance Grant Program will provide support for small to medium community-based organisations undertaking projects that provide community connection, digital inclusion and help overcome social isolation. It is a temporary grants fund in addition to Council’s range of ongoing community grants programs. Application forms and guidelines can be found on Council’s website at www.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/grants from Monday, 12 October.

To further help local community and sporting organisations that rent facilities from Council, a COVID-19 rent waiver program that has been in place since April 2020 has been extended for another six months.

“Council has continued to receive calls and emails over the past months, grateful for the assistance already given and asking for further rental help,” said Andrew Beswick, Council’s Director Business Services. “We can now continue to run a waiver program for a further six months, but with an assessment every three months to ensure assistance is being given to tenants who are most in need and to the extent they continue to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The situation with COVID-19 is constantly changing and some not-for-profit groups within the community have actually seen revenues increase during this time. In light of this, Council will be undertaking an assessment of all tenants who seek a rent waiver or deferral in line with the National Government leasing arrangements released as a result of the pandemic.

Both the rent waiver and temporary grants program are in addition to the Local Business Support Plan announced in March 2020 to help the local economy and wider community cope with the pandemic. The measures included:

  • Encouraging everyone to buy local and support local business #buylocal #supportlocal;
  • Applying loan repayment relief for existing loans to community groups;
  • Council buying goods and services from local businesses;
  • Amending Council’s ‘Rates, Charges and Fees – Financial Hardship Policy’ to apply to non-residential properties;
  • Suspending new debt recovery actions for outstanding accounts where financial hardship is evident;
  • Extending the due date for the first rates instalment from 31 August 2020 to 30 September 2020;
  • Removing account keeping fees, late and reminder fees and credit card surcharges; and
  • Deferring the 2020/21 Special Rate for city centre businesses and associated infrastructure works to the same value.
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