Covington program offers businesses up to $500 for rent, mortgages; waiving permit fees

Covington

COVINGTON, Ky. — Qualifying businesses can apply for up to $500 a month to help pay rent or mortgages under a new, temporary program the City of Covington has created to protect jobs during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Emergency Disaster and Rent & Mortgage Business Assistance Program is one of three executive orders signed by Covington Mayor Joe Meyer late Wednesday to help local businesses stay solvent during the global health crisis.

The other orders waive permit fees and extend the tax filing deadline by three months.

“Early last week our team began looking at ways we could help our small locally owned businesses, avert some layoffs, and help assure a quicker recovery after the ‘all-clear’ is eventually sounded,” Covington Economic Development Director Tom West said.

“By taking an existing program like our rent subsidy for new businesses and modifying the parameters to help our existing businesses, we believe we can be part of the solution,” West continued. “Our initiative is intended to complement other means of assistance, including possible insurance claims, SBA loans and the federal stimulus being worked out now.”

The city has set aside $200,000 for the program from its economic development fund.

The assistance is limited to four months’ help. It’s dispersed to businesses as a reimbursement of up to half their monthly rent or mortgage payment, or $500, whichever is less, beginning with the April payment.

As of now, the businesses must be in either in retail trade (falling under the North American Industry Classification System 44-45) or the accommodation & food services (NAICS 72). Those two sectors – which include small retail businesses and restaurants and bars – are among the hardest hit in Covington, with workers there most heavily affected by layoffs, West said.

Following health experts’ recommendations to limit the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus by limited face-to-face contact through “social distancing,” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear has ordered the closing of bars, restaurant dining rooms, and retail businesses.

Businesses that apply for rent and mortgage help from the City must be open at least 30 hours a week, unless ordered closed by legal mandate. And they must be working with the Kentucky Small Business Development Center on contingency planning and accessing federal disaster loans.

To apply or learn the details of the program, click here. An application doesn’t guarantee funding.

Questions can be sent to Covington Economic Development Program Manager Ross Patten via email at [email protected].

Additionally, Covington is temporarily waiving permit fees – but not application requirements – commonly associated with development, construction, and renovation projects to help protect jobs during the coronavirus pandemic.

The fee waivers – for dumpster permits, encroachment permits, and zoning permits – were contained in one of three executive orders signed by Mayor Meyer late Wednesday.

The other orders help businesses pay rent and mortgages and extend the tax filing deadline by three months.

“In times like this, even the smallest amounts of economic activity can make the difference between someone keeping a job or losing it,” Covington Economic Development Director Tom West explained.

“We want to make it easy for homeowners and business owners to continue to invest in their properties and hopefully create sales opportunities for hardware stores and other businesses and job opportunities for construction workers.”

Applicants must still apply for the necessary permits using the normal procedures and processes, but the fees associated with those permits are suspended temporarily.

The waivers were a collaborative effort among three City departments: Economic Development, which handles zoning; Public Works, which oversees encroachment permits; and Neighborhood Services, which oversees the dumpster permits, Neighborhood Services Director Ken Smith said.

“We all just put our heads together to figure out ways to keep projects moving,” Smith said.