PPP loans have had direct benefits for religious communities, according to recipients
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CNS) – Catholic entities that participated in the Paycheck Protection Program said federal emergency bridging loans resulted in rapid assistance for their communities in the first few months of the economic impact of the pandemic.
In Nashville, Tennessee, when Mayor John Cooper summoned local philanthropic and business leaders to create the city’s COVID-19 Response Fund, one of the first local agencies to join the Nashville effort was a team of members from the staff of Catholic Charities of Tennessee.
Catholic Charities reassigned some of its staff to the project there after ongoing work with refugee resettlement was interrupted by the pandemic and international border closures and travel halt.
Supported in part by federal loans, Catholic Charities of Tennessee was able to hijack around 20 staff who, working remotely, were able to help the COVID-19 Response Fund screen and process local residents in need of grants emergency cash for everything from rent assistance to utility payments and auto loans.
“The PPP money has allowed us to confidently keep our staff in place and immediately assign them to ad hoc work in our city and we have become an important player in our city,” Judy K. Orr, Executive Director of the Catholic Charities of Tennessee in Nashville. Catholic News Service said.
The region’s large tourism-related economy has been hit particularly hard by pandemic closures. Orr noted that the COVID-19 pandemic also came in the wake of a catastrophic tornado in Nashville that further stretched agency staff in early March.
“I spoke to the mayor’s office about the possibility of taking my partially inactive refugee staff to review applicants for the fund and within 48 hours we were asked to do this work,” Orr said. Other partners of the Nashville COVID-19 Response Fund included United Way of Greater Nashville and the Frist Foundation.
“It was essential for the city to process these requests for emergency assistance,” Orr said of the Nashville program. “We normally help around 200 families a year and instead we helped 500 in a month. Not only did the PPP allow our employees to continue working, but we were working harder, remotely and really in tune with the times. “
The Paycheck Protection Program – established by the CARES Act – is implemented by the Small Business Administration with support from the Department of the Treasury. This program provides small businesses and other entities with a fund period for salary costs, including employee benefits. The funds were also used to pay interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities.
At the end of April, the Diocesan Tax Management Conference had calculated that 8,000 parishes, 1,400 elementary schools, 700 secondary schools, 104 chanceries, 185 Catholic charities and 200 other diocesan organizations in 160 dioceses had requested help at that time. -the.
The conference said that religious entities that were not funded in the first round or applied after the initial allocation of federal money had been exhausted had already requested or planned to file applications as they went. as new funds flowed into the program.
In Portland, Oregon, Catholic Charities of Portland was able to acquire a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program and retain all of its staff while retooling – if not expanding – many of its programs for the new challenges of unemployment and insecurity. food posed by the pandemic, according to Vanessa. Briseno, director of the Pope Francis Center in Portland and senior development officer for Catholic Charities Portland.
As with the 2007-2008 national financial crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic has encountered an impressive amount of community goodwill and volunteerism, but the current crisis is proving deep and complicated for elderly and vulnerable populations, Briseno said. .
Catholic Charities of Portland used the loan to support a food intervention network; housing transition programs, expansion of resident services and a pantry program.
“We’re very lucky, but what’s different is the number of people and the volume of needs; we see a lot of needs that we haven’t seen before, ”she told CNS. “Many have no idea of a schedule when they can get back to work. “
“We weren’t much of a food supplier before, but we have now partnered with the Archdiocese of Portland, Blanchet House and St. Francis Dining Room to provide 10,000 hot meals per week and with agencies. farm workers to provide boxes of food to (farm) workers, ”Briseno added. Partnerships with local grocery stores have opened up another source of discounted food for needy families.
Marcie Pierce, chief financial officer of Catholic Charities in Portland, said the demand for PPP loans, as they are known, forced the agency to claim it had been negatively affected by the pandemic, and Catholic Charities of Portland was able to show a related reduction in fundraising.
“Once we were aware that we were injured (by the pandemic), we applied for the loan from another agency and we were able to get a loan – we hope to receive forgiveness,” Pierce said. , indicating that she then believed the PPP loan funding was probably exhausted.
The loan that Catholic Charities was able to secure from another agency “focusing directly on keeping our social service organization employed so that they can continue to do the good job that they are doing,” he said. -she adds.
The US Senate has extended the deadline for applying for PPP loans to August 8. The Senate action on June 30 came when more than $ 130 billion allocated to the program actually went unused.
Catholic schools and parishes were also among the participants in the paycheck protection program.
In Indianapolis, Holy Spirit Parish and School secured loan funding in a second round of funding. It enabled the parish to compensate for the drop in Sunday collections, which support the subsidy of tuition fees. The result was that teachers, daycares, summer camp and other staff were able to continue working until the end of June. The school has 400 students, according to Rita Parsons, principal of Holy Spirit.
“We would have had to take out a personal loan to cover the salaries of the teachers on contract,” Parsons said, if the PPP loan had not been granted in May. The school will resume programming for daycares and summer camps on July 20.
“We completed a survey with all of our families and they were very happy with how everything went, even though they wished their children had gone back to school sooner – but they understood we had to. deal with (security measures), ”Parsons said. “We’re going to get there and we’re going to start again in August stronger than ever.”
In Brookline, Mass., Theresa Kirk, principal of St. Mary of the Assumption Elementary School, worked with a local bank to secure a PPP loan for the school – the federal program is administered by the SBA and approved local lenders providing the money and turning the loan over allowed faculty and staff to work remotely without wasting a minute, she said.
“It certainly helped us keep going,” Kirk said of the federal loan program. She explained that the school had to be absent on March 13, stopping classroom teaching and turning to distance learning. “We rotated over a weekend when no one (on the staff here) had even heard of Zoom.”
Now the school is running an optional summer bridging program through distance learning to offset the impact of the ‘summer slide’ and provide additional social and emotional support to students.
Teachers are expected to reunite with students on campus for the fall term starting September 9 with a staggered schedule, moving shortly thereafter to a more normal school day if conditions allow.
“We are very lucky at Brookline and the parents are thankful: our registrations are actually closed for the fall. Some families have come back to us who may be considering not coming back, ”Kirk said.