Aspen to give Eagle County $50K in COVID-19 relief

Aspen Times Staff Report

Aspen City Council on Tuesday approved giving $50,000 to Eagle County residents living in the Roaring Fork Valley who need assistance with housing, child care and food resulting from the impacts of COVID-19.

The money is coming out of the city’s $6 million COVID-19 relief and recovery program that was established in April.

Over 65% of Aspen’s workforce resides outside of the city, and the need to retain a qualified and stable workforce is a key to Aspen’s economic recovery, including many year-round employees residing in Eagle County, according to City Manager Sara Ott.

The money will be transferred to Eagle County Human Services to reimburse a portion of the county’s economic assistance program.

Eagle County verifies individuals’ income, household size, needs, as well as leverages eligibility for existing state and federal aid programs.

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These funds may be eligible for reimbursement in the future through state and federal relief packages, however, there is no guarantee, according to Ott.

She added that the reimbursement processes take time, while Eagle County has already been providing aid to economically vulnerable residents.

As of May 11, Eagle County had distributed $43,977.25 in direct assistance in the Roaring Fork Valley.

The city, as part of its relief program, gave Pitkin County $500,000 to provide financial relief to city of Aspen residents in the areas of housing, utility, food and child care assistance.

Snowmass kicked in $200,000, the county contributed in $500,000 and $218,000 came from private donations, according to Nan Sundeen, director of human services for Pitkin County.

The county relief program, which also was fueled by state and federal money, was suspended July 1 after issuing nearly $2.3 million in assistance to more than 3,400 Pitkin County residents since late-March.

The city also earmarked $1.5 million from its affordable housing fund specifically to help assist those who live in one of the 3,000 deed-restricted units in the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority inventory.

About $600,000 has been spent, according to Sundeen.

She said the county’s human services team is taking a break to reassess its role in doling out assistance now while requests have slowed down as the local economy has opened up.

But she acknowledged that as the federal unemployment stimulus goes away at the end of the month and offseason approaches, the need is anticipated to be just as great as when the pandemic began.

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