Mayor Durkan, Council President González, Councilmember Mosqueda, and Councilmember Morales Announce Joint COVID-19 Relief Package that Ensures Emergency Funds Remain Available for 2020 and 2021

Seattle (August 21, 2020) – Building on $233 million the City has invested thus far in COVID-19 relief, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan, Council President M. Lorena González, Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda, and Councilmember Tammy Morales announced a joint amended COVID-19 relief package. This joint proposal will create and extend $45 million in COVID-19 programs through this year and into next year while ensuring the City has emergency reserves to address the 2020 and 2021 budget shortfalls and emergencies. Originally authored by Councilmember Mosqueda and passed unanimously by Council, the legislation provided additional support for COVID-19 relief programs using the City’s emergency funds and reserves. In addition, the department of Finance and Administrative Services has begun the process of implementation and rulemaking of JumpStart Seattle – the payroll tax proposed by Councilmember Mosqueda and passed by Council in July.

“Our City has faced urgent and unprecedented challenges including a pandemic, a civil rights reckoning, skyrocketing unemployment, closure of small businesses, a $326 million shortfall to our budget, and immense needs in our community. While our challenges are unprecedented, our City has led the way in pioneering and supporting so many new programs to address the needs of our residents and small businesses. In the midst of significant new challenges to our City budget, we have come together to create a plan for expanding assistance while continuing to provide City services that our residents and businesses rely on,” said Mayor Durkan. “Over the last week, I have worked with Council to develop a joint solution that serves our communities. In the coming weeks, I am confident we can continue to partner on issues – even when we may disagree. Partnership between the Executive and Council is critical, and it’s what our residents expect of us.”

“While the COVID-19 pandemic won’t last forever, its impact on Seattleites health and financial well-being is potentially life-altering. By acting now to support small businesses, we can keep people employed and businesses afloat long enough to outlast the crisis. If we invest today in immigrant and refugee communities, we can keep families safe and financially secure through this challenging period. By providing safe shelter immediately for those who are unhoused, we can save lives and help folks get back on their feet before their health and economic conditions worsen. The Mayor and Council are striving to set our differences aside in the hope of doing right by the people of our city and supporting those who need government to serve them well today and in the future,” said Council President M. Lorena González (Position 9, Citywide).

“COVID has laid bare the inequities in our current system, from escalating housing instability to insufficient City revenue to care for our community, especially in times of crisis. The JumpStart progressive tax developed with robust stakeholder input, will help create greater stability and equity in years to come to augment this immediate COVID relief. We know direct investments into our community, via small business, housing, food, and childcare, is a proven way to reduce the length of a recession and jumpstart our economy. While I am deeply disappointed we cannot do more immediately, we are moving forward jointly as we cannot wait another day,” said Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda (Position 8, Citywide).

“While we may not always agree, I appreciate the Mayor’s collaboration with the council to get funding out the door for our neighbors during these trying times and retaining the funds placed in reserves, unanimously, by vote of my council colleagues. Without direct relief from the federal government, we must act to help provide relief to our city, especially for our Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and refugee and immigrant neighbors that are hardest hit by this pandemic. And frankly, this funding is the only lifeline for many that were shut out of the previous federal funding package. Black and refugee and immigrant small businesses are a vital cornerstone in our community. I worked with the Mayor and my council colleagues to ensure additional funding for the Office of Economic Development (OED) Small Business Stabilization Fund for the rest of the year and into 2021. The potential loss of businesses in District 2 are not just devastating but further threat of erasure of the vibrant cultures of our city,” said Councilmember Tammy J. Morales (District 2, South Seattle).

As part of the 2020 budget, the Mayor and City Council have invested $233 million in COVID-19 relief programs. City Council and Mayor Durkan have agreed to an additional $21.25 million to be distributed in 2020 and $23.75 million to be distributed in 2021. In addition, this joint plan leaves more than $50 million available to address the 2020 and 2021 budget shortfalls or any unplanned emergencies. The City entered the COVID-19 pandemic with total General Fund emergency reserves of $127.5 million. Under this plan, the City is anticipated to use approximately:

  • $8.7 million for rental assistance, which builds on the $41 million announced by King County for housing assistance and mortgage counseling;
  • $9 million for immigrant and refugee communities and language access, which builds on the Governor’s $40 million commitment to state residents;
  • $9 million for grocery vouchers to continue program for at least five additional months;
  • $5.7 million for small businesses;
  • $2.4 million for childcare;
  • $5 million for human service providers for people experiencing homelessness and other critical needs; and
  • $5 million for public health resources, such as free testing sites. 

In 2020, the City received federal relief including $131 million through the Coronavirus Relief Fund and additional Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), which allowed the City to create many of these programs. If additional federal resources become available in late 2020 or 2021, these programs may be expanded or resources reallocated to other COVID-19 urgent needs.

Nearly six months ago, Washington state had the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the nation. With the support of City Council, Mayor Durkan and the City of Seattle quickly enacted measures to support artists, nonprofits, small businesses, workers, emergency response, and our most vulnerable including:     

The City has also created a comprehensive resource page for residents and small businesses impacted by COVID-19. This page will be updated as more information becomes available.