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Denver nonprofit offers cash assistance to Colorado Black women struggling


DENVER — A Denver faith-based nonprofit organization is helping Black women struggling financially with a cash assistance program.

On Juneteenth, Soul 2 Soul Sisters, a nonprofit, launched a COVID-19 cash assistance program for Black women. Applicants can request $50 to $350.

“The funds can be used for any personal, medical professional expenses,” said Niyankor Ajuaj, a spokesperson with the nonprofit.

The initial goal of the program was to help 90 to 100 Black women living in Colorado, and so far, more than 500 have applied.

“We are finding out that it’s not business as usual for a lot of Black women in our community due to the fact that they are behind on so many different payments, like rent, the car, childcare, school,” Ajuaj said. “We are hoping that we can help all the Black women that apply.”

The organization hopes by providing financial assistance to Black women, they can also boost vaccination rates.

“The narrative is, ‘How can I get vaccinated when I don’t even know how I am going to feed my kids today?’” Ajuaj said.

The pandemic impacted minority communities at a greater rate and drove millions of women out of the workforce.

A study conducted by UCLA found that at the end of 2020, Latinas and Black women had nearly double the unemployment rate of their white counterparts, according to the Associated Press.

Lauren Hawkins applied for the program. She is a single mother on a fixed income. Hawkins said she only receives $215 dollars a month from the Americans with Disabilities.

“I’m struggling, barely making ends meet,” Hawkins said.

She says she’s been out of work for eight years after undergoing reconstructive foot surgery. If Hawkins is selected, she plans to use the money for rent, food or her cell phone bill.

The application for the COVID-19 cash assistance program can be accessed in the Instagram bio of Souls 2 Souls Sisters. The deadline to apply is Saturday, June 26 at 11:59 p.m.

“Cash assistance is open to anybody who lives in the state of Colorado who identifies as a Black woman and in need of financial assistance,” Ajuaj said.

Money is already being dispersed to applicants by check and Paypal. The organization is also accepting donations online to assure everyone’s needs are met.





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Future

‘Triumph over defeat:’ Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings eyes future in State of the County address


ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings looked to the future in his State of the County address Friday morning as the county sees lower rates of COVID-19 transmission and more vaccinations.

The mayor spoke at the Orange County Convention Center to a crowd of people, a major change compared to his last address that was virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic. Demings reflected on the last year, reiterating the county has seen “triumph over defeat” as many industries continue to rebound.

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“The past year has been difficult for all of us due to a once in a century pandemic. We have experienced loss, we have faced unforeseen challenges and we have tested the limits of our frontline healthcare workers, emergency first responders and essential workers,” he said.

The mayor said the county would move into phase 3 of the approach to lift COVID-19 mask mandates Saturday as the county enters the 14th day of seeing a positivity rate at or below 5%. However, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently eliminated COVID mandates across the state, including local restrictions.

This time last year, Disney World was closed in an effort to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, shutting down for “the longest period of time in their history.” Theme parks in the county, including Disney World and Universal Orlando, had to layoff employees as the industry faced impacts from the virus. Now, the mayor highlighted these parks are returning to normal, seeing high numbers over the Memorial Day weekend and anticipating more job opportunities with expansions.

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Demings said the county is anticipating more than 14,000 permanent jobs with Universal Orlando’s Epic Universe now that the work picked back up in March after it was halted in July 2020 due to the pandemic. Disney World is opening new restaurants and hotels this year and next, along with a new rollercoaster opening up at SeaWorld Orlando.

“These theme park expansions will deliver a new experience for visitors and will provide a huge boost to our local economy,” he said.

The mayor recounted the county’s efforts to keep businesses afloat by using federal Cares Act funding to provide financial assistance to small and home-based businesses, households and landlords. He also said the funding allowed the county to provide emergency food assistance as many residents struggled, especially at the start of the pandemic. Demings also highlighted the effort to keep supporting the performing arts community and funding venues to keep the industry going until they could reopen once again.

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“The heavy clouds of COVID-19 that hung over our region are dissipating and our economy is growing again. By mid-summer, I believe, we will be over the acute phase of the virus and our economic engines will be at full throttle,” he said.

The county has seen new or expanded businesses, including White Castle, that have helped boost the local economy. The mayor said the county is seeking to diversify the local economy and help create jobs through the $2 million stimulus that was approved by county commissioners.

The county is also preparing to accommodate for nearly 2 million residents anticipated in 2050 through a “multi-phased” approach that would preserve the natural environment and move toward cleaner energy. The county is working to continue moving forward following last year’s call for social reform with the death of George Floyd. Now, Demings said the county continues to vaccinate its residents by bringing doses to the community.

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“With the rapid deployment of testing and distribution of the vaccine throughout the county and speedy distribution of assistance to our residents most impacted, we are paving a path for improvement in our economy,” Demings said.

This State of County address comes as Florida is seeing its lowest COVID-19 hospitalizations in over one year and as Orange County has a positivity rate at or below 5% in nearly the last two weeks. Last year, the mayor’s address came at the height of the pandemic where he announced a new regional campaign to encourage businesses and residents to use COVID-19 safety guidelines.

Copyright 2021 by WKMG ClickOrlando – All rights reserved.



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Future

Future Economy Collective mutual aid effort hits one-year milestone


BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) – Wednesday marked one year since a Blacksburg nonprofit organized mutual aid efforts to keep feeding families in the New River Valley.

Twice a week volunteers from the Future Economy Collective fill boxes with food, clothing and cleaning supplies to fill the gap between other financial assistance programs.

In December, the nonprofit opened a brick and mortar location to keep distributing these boxes and launched the Southpaw Café. All proceeds from the café go directly back to mutual aid efforts to help families.

“It’s been a mix but overall a massive honor to be able to do this and it fills us with so much pride and joy knowing that folks really do care about their fellow man,” co-director Gretchen Dee said.

The volunteers have filled 948 boxes this past year. If you need a box or want to help with the nonprofit’s efforts, you can do that on their website.

The Southpaw Café is open Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and sells coffee, bagels, soup, vegan options, plants, zines, art and spiced hot chocolate. There are suggested prices.

You can also choose to pay it forward for a future customer of the shop.

The nonprofit is located at the intersection of Draper Road and Jackson Street.

Copyright 2021 WDBJ. All rights reserved.



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States ranked by percentage of COVID-19 vaccines administered: Jan. 25


North Dakota has administered the highest percentage of COVID-19 vaccines it has received, according to the CDC’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution and administration data tracker.

The CDC’s data tracker compiles data from healthcare facilities and public health authorities. It updates daily to report the total number of COVID-19 vaccines that have been distributed to each state and the total number each state has administered.

As of 6 a.m. EST Jan. 24, a total of 41,411,550 vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S., and 21,848,655 have been administered, or 52.76 percent. That means about 6.66 percent of the U.S. population has been vaccinated. Additionally, 18,502,131 people have received their first dose of the vaccine, and 3,216,836 have received the full two doses. 

Below are the states ranked by the percentage of COVID-19 vaccines they’ve administered of those that have been distributed to them. Some numbers may not reflect the actual number of vaccines administered, as coding problems and data lags have hindered efforts to accurately count and publicly report how many doses are administered daily in some states. 

  1. North Dakota
    Doses distributed to state: 86,750
    Doses administered: 73,175
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 84.35
  2. West Virginia
    Doses distributed to state: 243,100
    Doses administered: 202,883
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 83.46
  3. New Mexico
    Doses distributed to state: 257,075
    Doses administered: 200,141
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 77.85
  4. South Dakota
    Doses distributed to state: 106,575
    Doses administered: 80,441
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 75.48
  5. Connecticut
    Doses distributed to state: 492,850
    Doses administered: 321,737
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 65.28
  6. Oklahoma
    Doses distributed to state: 496,350
    Doses administered: 322,810
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 65.04
  7. Montana
    Doses distributed to state: 119,500
    Doses administered: 76,590
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 64.09
  8. Kentucky
    Doses distributed to state: 471,000
    Doses administered: 299,493
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 63.59
  9. Michigan
    Doses distributed to state: 1,095,675
    Doses administered: 695,273
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 63.46
  10. Colorado
    Doses distributed to state: 692,700
    Doses administered: 434,496
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 62.72
  11. South Carolina
    Doses distributed to state: 453,250
    Doses administered: 278,795
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 61.51
  12. Louisiana
    Doses distributed to state: 543,700
    Doses administered: 334,086
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 61.45
  13. Alaska
    Doses distributed to state: 155,700
    Doses administered: 94,257
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 60.54
  14. Utah
    Doses distributed to state: 341,725
    Doses administered: 202,729
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 59.33
  15. Arkansas
    Doses distributed to state: 368,650
    Doses administered: 214,240
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 58.11
  16. Oregon
    Doses distributed to state: 492,450
    Doses administered: 285,922
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 58.06
  17. Wyoming
    Doses distributed to state: 70,750
    Doses administered: 40,803
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 57.67
  18. Vermont
    Doses distributed to state: 90,000
    Doses administered: 51,872
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 57.64
  19. Texas
    Doses distributed to state: 3,070,825
    Doses administered: 1,763,299
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 57.42
  20. New Hampshire
    Doses distributed to state: 162,950
    Doses administered: 93,338
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 57.28
  21. New York
    Doses distributed to state: 2,395,950
    Doses administered: 1,365,404
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 56.99
  22. Maine
    Doses distributed to state: 178,450
    Doses administered: 99,815
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 55.93
  23. Nebraska
    Doses distributed to state: 238,100
    Doses administered: 132,846
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 55.79
  24. Delaware
    Doses distributed to state: 116,325
    Doses administered: 64,186
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 55.18
  25. New Jersey
    Doses distributed to state: 989,900
    Doses administered: 535,625
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 54.11
  26. Tennessee
    Doses distributed to state: 838,825
    Doses administered: 452,042
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 53.89
  27. Florida
    Doses distributed to state: 2,908,275|
    Doses administered: 1,544,794
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 53.12
  28. Washington
    Doses distributed to state: 846,625
    Doses administered: 449,385
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 53.08
  29. Nevada
    Doses distributed to state: 286,950
    Doses administered: 152,203
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 53.04
  30. Indiana
    Doses distributed to state: 841,725
    Doses administered: 446,029
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 52.99
  31. Iowa
    Doses distributed to state: 361,475
    Doses administered: 191,183
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 52.89
  32. Ohio
    Doses distributed to state: 1,233,075
    Doses administered: 647,104
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 52.48
  33. North Carolina
    Doses distributed to state: 1,246,600
    Doses administered: 636,439
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 51.05
  34. Wisconsin
    Doses distributed to state: 610,100
    Doses administered: 308,290
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 50.53
  35. Mississippi
    Doses distributed to state: 358,100
    Doses administered: 177,636
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 49.61
  36. Illinois
    Doses distributed to state: 1,417,250
    Doses administered: 699,072
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 49.33
  37. Georgia
    Doses distributed to state: 1,235,775
    Doses administered: 604,067
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 48.88
  38. Massachusetts
    Doses distributed to state: 859,175
    Doses administered: 419,806
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 48.86
  39. Idaho
    Doses distributed to state: 181,100
    Doses administered: 87,128
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 48.11
  40. Missouri
    Doses distributed to state: 661,400
    Doses administered: 317,737
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 48.04
  41. Pennsylvania
    Doses distributed to state: 1,564,125
    Doses administered: 744,591
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 47.60
  42. Minnesota
    Doses distributed to state: 680,700
    Doses administered: 321,180
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 47.18
  43. Arizona
    Doses distributed to state: 829,500
    Doses administered: 390,623
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 47.09
  44. Alabama
    Doses distributed to state: 521,225
    Doses administered: 243,737
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 46.76
  45. Maryland
    Doses distributed to state: 742,175
    Doses administered: 338,544
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 45.62
  46. Rhode Island
    Doses distributed to state: 149,225
    Doses administered: 67,566
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 45.28
  47. California
    Doses distributed to state: 4,906,525
    Doses administered: 2,199,908
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 44.84
  48. Hawaii
    Doses distributed to state: 191,575
    Doses administered: 84,792
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 44.26
  49. Kansas
    Doses distributed to state: 348,175
    Doses administered: 151,249
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 43.44
  50. Virginia
    Doses distributed to state: 1,069,725
    Doses administered: 451,668
    Percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered: 42.22

More articles on public health:
Mixing COVID-19 vaccine doses OK in rare situations, CDC says
Some evidence indicates UK strain is more deadly, Boris Johnson says
COVID-19 hospitalizations by state: Jan. 25

 


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Goodbye Yellow Brick Road — Thousands Leave The Bay Area – CBS San Francisco


By CBS San Francisco Staff

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Like thousands of other tech workers, William Hauser came to the San Francisco Bay Area from Ohio seeking a bright future in the epicenter of the digital world.

There were obstacles — high rents, an ever skyrocketing cost of living, long hours at work. Then the coronavirus struck. In mid-March, tech giants including Salesforce, Apple, Google and Twitter sent their staffs home to work remotely and smaller firms followed suit. As the lockdown lingered, the luster wore off and Hauser joined the exodus from the Bay Area.

“Honestly, I started being a software engineer, I got into computers, because it’s convenient to be able to work remotely,” Hauser said as he was loading up a U-Haul in his San Francisco neighborhood in the fall. “Now that everyone has been working remote, and policies aren’t cemented at least until next year, there’s no reason to stay here when I could go back to family and work remotely there.”

As the months wore on, moving vans and U-Hauls became a common sight on neighborhood streets as the retreat from San Francisco and the Bay Area gained momentum.

Hauser wasn’t alone. Richard Matsui, CEO of San Francisco-based kWh Analytics, relocated to back to Hawaii.

He grew up in Honolulu. After high school, he left for the U.S. mainland and Asia for educational and career opportunities and never expected to be able to leave the Bay Area and still be able to run the company.

Then the pandemic shut down child care options in San Francisco for his baby born in January. He and his wife planned to come to Honolulu for a month so that his mother could help with the baby. A month turned into two and then six.

“If there’s an opportunity now to take mainland salaries and our mainland jobs and to execute them well from Hawaii, I do think that Hawaii has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to diversify the economy and … take advantage of the fact that our core strength in Hawaii is a tremendously wonderful place to live and to raise kids,” he said.

ALSO READ: 2020 In Review: The Day The Sky Turned Blood Orange; Historic Wildfires Ravage Northern California

Tesla CEO Elon Musk also departed the Silicon Valley, moving to Texas, but he did keep his headquarters in the Bay Area. That wasn’t the case for tech giant Oracle and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, who both announced moves out of state.

Musk recently compared California’s situation to sports teams.

“They (successful sports teams) do tend to get a little complacent, a little entitled, and then they don’t win the championship anymore,” Musk said of California. “(California) has been winning for a long time. And I think they’re taking them for granted a little bit.”

The numbers bore out the trend. An industry survey found that more people were leaving California than moving into state, continuing a trend that coupled with fewer births slowed the growth rate in the nation’s most populous state to a record low amid the pandemic that is reshaping its future.

Officially, California added 21,200 people from July 1, 2019, to July 1, 2020, increasing the state’s population a paltry 0.05% to 39.78 million people — still by far the most of any state.

But the bigger news from the new population estimate was that 135,600 more people left the state than moved here. It’s only the 12th time since 1900 the state has had a net migration loss, and the third largest ever recorded.

The exodus also drove down rents. Analysts at AdvisorSmith found that 10 of the top 25 cities in the U.S. where rents are fell the most, were in the Bay Area.

San Francisco was number 4 in the nation, after Odessa, TX (1); Midland, TX (2); and Williston, North Dakota (3). Other Bay Area communities include Mountain View (5), Sunnyvale (6), Redwood City (8), San Mateo (11), Oakland (15) and San Jose (19).

The range of the drop has varied wildly based on location. In San Francisco, rents have fallen from $2,650 per month to $2,081 since 2019. That’s a 26% drop. In Walnut Creek (76), the rent drop was much less: only a 3.7% drop from $2,574 per month to $2,512.

When it came to those who stayed in the Bay Area, a desire for home ownership — fueled by low interest rates and the need for more space while working remotely — buoyed the real estate market.

According to a California Association of Realtors report, the median price for an existing, single-family home in the Bay Area was $1,060,000 in September, which was down 0.7% from August’s all-time high but up 20.5% from September of last year.

“Buyer demand remains robust,” said Jordan Levine, the association’s deputy chief economist. “We see that in the mortgage applications, we see that in the price numbers for the Bay Area, in the unsold inventory numbers which declined. That is driving this rebound in sales, but it is also making the market more competitive.”

Others planned to stay in California, but relocate outside the Bay Area where home prices were more reasonable. Home sales soared in the Lake Tahoe area.

“We’ve seen a large number of transplants from other areas,” said Rhonda Keen, president of the South Tahoe Association of Relators. “It’s not just tech-workers either. We’re getting all kinds demographics buying homes without even seeing the property.”



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What southern Coloradans need to know this week


COLORADO SPRINGS — With so much information being announced daily about the COVID-19 pandemic, here is a review and preview of what is going on in Southern Colorado as it pertains to the virus:

The Review

Colorado lawmakers pass 10 bills aimed at COVID-19 pandemic relief in 2020 special session

Colorado lawmakers passed 10 bills in the three-day 2020 special session that adjourned Wednesday which allocate around $300 million in relief spending toward small business, housing, child care and other sectors deeply affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The measures that passed include the priorities from Democratic leadership announced before the session started, as Democrats control both the House and Senate, but the Republican priorities, which included sending tax credits to families and limiting the governor’s authority during an emergency, failed.

“Help is on the way:” Gov. Polis, Dr. Fauci discuss vaccines and COVID-19 in Colorado

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top expert on infectious diseases, joined Gov. Jared Polis Tuesday afternoon to discuss the state of COVID-19 in Colorado and the anticipated surge in cases following the Thanksgiving holiday.

Fauci said Colorado is not alone in seeing a spike in cases and described the situation the country is seeing as a “public health crisis.” He described this increase as worse than the ones we experienced in the past.

First, both Polis and Fauci said high priority individuals, such as healthcare workers, those in nursing homes, and veteran facilities will gain access to the vaccine in December. Then, in January, February, and March, essential workers, such as teachers, will be able to get the shot. By April, Fauci expects it will be available to the general public.

Pueblo City Council introduces “5 Star” plan for its businesses

The city of Pueblo is one step closer to applying for a program that could allow indoor dining, while still being in Level Red under the state’s COVID dial.

It is referred to as the ‘5 Star Variance” program. On Tuesday night, Pueblo’s City Council, The Board of County Commissioners, and Mayor Gradisar met to discuss the program.

The program would allow restaurants and businesses to open back up, under Level Orange restrictions. However, the businesses and restaurants would need to meet certain health and safety guidelines.

Fremont County to move into “high risk” level on state COVID-19 dial Friday

Fremont County health officials announced the county would be moving into Level Orange: High Risk on the state’s COVID-19 dial Friday.

The move took effect at 12 a.m. Friday, impacting capacity limits.

For a county to operate within the Level Orange: High Risk level on the COVID-19 dial, the county would have to have a 15% positivity rate or less, 175-350 cases per 100,000 people, and greater than two new COVID-19 hospital admissions per day. Under this dial level, restaurants will operate at 25% capacity indoors with 6 feet between parties outdoors per guidance and bars will be closed.

For a break down of capacity on Level Orange, click here.

The Preview

Here’s a look at what you’ll see on News 5 this week.

On Monday, Pueblo’s newest COVID-19 testing site will open.

Parkview Hospital’s new visitor policy goes into effect and only a limited number of visitors will be allowed.

The City of Pueblo is also holding a special session Monday to discuss several items, one of which is funding for a new testing site.

Also this week, News 5’s Ashley Portillo is talking with a foster care agency that’s setting up a virtual wish list to help foster kids this holiday season.

On Thursday, Meteorologist Alex O’Brien will have your ski report and more on what you can expect if you’re hitting the slopes next weekend.

We’ll also continue to stay on top of how folks and small businesses are adapting to this unique holiday season.

______

With The Rebound Colorado, News5’s team will be here to answer your questions, bringing you expert advice to balance the books, pay the bills, and rebuild savings accounts. E-mail us any time at [email protected] with your suggestions, feedback, frustrations, ideas, suggestions, and anything else you need.

The Rebound Colorado





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San Diego County Rental Assistance Application – NBC 7 San Diego


An additional 10,000 households economically impacted by COVID-19 are able to apply for rent relief from San Diego County on Tuesday, part of $27 million county supervisors allocated for just such a purpose.

County residents economically impacted by the pandemic could qualify for assistance of up to $3,000 to pay for past-due or upcoming rent through the second wave of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program starting Tuesday.

County leaders are anticipating awarding more than $10 million in assistance to residents who applied during the first round of applications at the beginning of October, although details about when that money is expected are scarce.

For the new round of funding, the county will review applications as they are received and will continue to take applications until funds are depleted. Those who apply will be able to check their application status online at any point in the process.

To be eligible, households must be renting and have experienced a financial hardship directly related to COVID-19. This includes a loss or reduction of income or an increase in medical expenses.

Households must also fall under 60% of the area median income to qualify. For example, to be eligible, a single-person household can earn up to $48,540 and a four-person household can earn up to $69,300. The program will be able to assist about 10,000 households.

Residents who live in cities with their own COVID-19 rental relief program will not be eligible for the county program unless their cities’ funds have already been depleted.

Also, applicants must not receive any other forms of housing subsidy, such as Section 8 or other rental assistance programs, rapid rehousing assistance or rental assistance from nonprofit agencies.

Only one application per household will be accepted and the applicant’s landlord must agree to participate in the program for the county of San Diego to process the emergency rental assistance grant.

Applicants can click here to find more program information, including how to apply and detailed eligibility criteria.





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Future

With new skaters off the ice, NWT clubs worry about the future


Parents looking to enrol their kids in their first skating class will have to wait until the new year at the earliest.

Skate Canada, the group that sanctions skating lessons, is not allowing children who do not know how to skate on the ice to learn this year.

As a result of this, the program coined Pre-CanSkate – where kids aged two and up can take to their ice with their parent and learn to skate – has been temporarily cancelled in skating clubs.

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“That’s per Skate Canada’s rule. No skating clubs across Canada are allowed to take brand-new skaters, unfortunately,” said Kami Harney, head coach of the Fort Smith Skating Club.

The restriction is designed to limit contact between coaches and skaters. New skaters can require a lot of hands-on assistance to teach them how to get comfortable on their own.

Harney says this year’s Fort Smith cohort instead consists of children aged four and up who know how to stand and walk on skates.

Clubs in the NWT say they hope to see the rules change after Christmas, if it is safe to do so.

Kim Myra, a coach for the Yellowknife Skating Club, said the city’s coaches are bound to the same rules as the Fort Smith club.

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Myra described an incident where an inexperienced skater struggled on the ice. If that struggle becomes persistent, she said, the club may ask a skater to pause skating lessons until the rules changes and coaches can be more hands-on again.

‘They keep our club going’

Both clubs said parents looking to register young children have had to be turned away.

“We just hope parents understand that we’re protecting ourselves with what’s been happening with Covid,” Myra said.

It isn’t only the kids who lose out. Clubs will have no registration fees coming in from the classes they would typically run for younger skaters, in addition to running at a lower capacity for other age groups.

“Those CanSkate programs are what keeps our club going,” Myra said.

Harney worries about existing skaters losing the opportunity to hit the ice, but more so about others never signing up in the first place. That in turn may impact future programs, since groups of returning skaters could be smaller.

“We can’t invite new skaters, which is going to be a bit of a struggle for our club, I think,” she said.

“I’m also thinking we’re going to miss out on a crew of skaters that might not eventually get into figure skating.”

Other programs still running

A maximum of 25 socially distanced individuals are allowed on the ice under current restrictions. Those include staff, volunteers who assist with teaching, and students.

Fort Smith skaters will take to the ice on Monday while skaters in Yellowknife started up CanSkate programming earlier this week. Some figure skating had been happening since September.  

Some programs have been split into smaller groups and run less frequently to evenly divide time on the ice, according to Harney.

“It’s not the best, but we’re waiting to see what registration brings us to see if we could maybe combine [classes] if we don’t get as many people,” she said.

Myra says the lack of contact between coach and skater means even some programs given the green light are difficult to navigate.

“We’re used to assisting the skaters – positioning with their leg, or their free leg in a jump, or something,” she said.

“So, we’re not physically touching the skaters as much.”

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