Grants for Peacham residents impacted by the coronavirus pandemic

The Selectboard of the Town of Peacham has established the Peacham Covid-19 Relief Fund. The purpose of this fund is to assist current Peacham residents who are being impacted by the on-going effects of the coronavirus pandemic. Funds will be used to help residents directly affected from contracting covid-19, and those having economic distress because of loss of income, for example, due to job loss, unexpected financial obligations, etc. Financial grants will be made to individuals or families based upon the criteria recommended by an Advisory Covid-19 Relief Fund Committee (“Committee”) with final approval of disbursement by any available member of the Selectboard. When the Selectboard voted to accept this proposal for a Covid-19 Relief Fund, they also voted to allow any one of the three Selectboard members to sign a warrant for checks from this fund (consistent with 24 V.S.A. 1623) thus preventing further delay in funds reaching recipients.


Fundraising

Fundraising will be coordinated by the Committee. Solicitations will be made by:

• Direct mailing to all Peacham households (paid for by the Fund)
• E-mail solicitations through existing networks
• Posting on websites: Town of Peacham, For the Love of Peacham, Front Page Forum, etc.
• Face-to-face asks (if and when possible) and/or telephone solicitations to known philanthropists

Gifts of checks (or cash) need to be made out to the Town of Peacham (memo line: Covid-19 Fund) and are tax deductible, provided no other conditions are required by the donor. All gifts to the fund will be anonymous and there will be no donor recognition of any kind. Gifts of all sizes are accepted and welcomed. While there is no specific dollar goal for the fund, it is expected that thousands of dollars would need to be raised to meet the expected need.


Administration

The fund will be administered as a restricted fund by the Town of Peacham and its accounting overseen by the Town Treasurer/Clerk and Assistant Town Clerk. Funds will not be invested so as to be available for immediate use. The fund will be audited as part of the Town Audit conducted for the current fiscal year.


Distribution Criteria

Priority will be given first to those individuals or families who are year round residents of Peacham who contract Covid-19. Funds may be disbursed to offset medical costs, costs for transportation, meeting unmet deductibles, or any other unforeseen costs associated with contracting this disease. After that, if funds are available, funds will be disbursed to current Peacham residents who have experienced financial distress due to loss of income related to the economic recession related to the pandemic shutdown. Only current Peacham residents (or former residents just recently displaced due to covid-19 related circumstances) would be eligible or funding. Residents need to submit a simple, one-page written application, on-line or through the mail. Additional documentation to support their request is required. Requests will be reviewed by the Advisory Covid-19 Relief Fund Committee which is comprised of the following : three of the five Town Justices of the Peace, and four people appointed by the Town Selectboard. (Currently those individuals are; Jean Dedham, Erick Kaufman, Cynther Greene, Jeff Berwick, Ralph Crocker, Margaret Maclean and Jim Minichiello). If any committee member reasonably recognizes they are likely related by blood or marriage to an applicant, then such committee member will disclose to the committee that they may have a potential conflict of interest, and withdraw from providing any discussion or influence over that month’s vote. The Committee shall send its monthly recommendations for funding to the Town Clerk/Treasurer for disbursement.


Application Process and Distribution Criteria

The application process is designed to be simple and equitable, putting no additional stress on the applicant, and ensuring there is a fair process for distributing grants. The following is the process and criteria for administering the fund.

  1. Applicants need to complete a simple one page application available on-line or from the Town Clerk.
  2. The Town Clerk will receive the request and redact any personal and/or identifying information, insuring the application is anonymous for purposes of Committee review.
  3. The redacted application will be sent to all Committee members within 5 days of receipt.
  4. The Committee will review the applications and prioritize grant requests based on the following criteria:
    • Priority One: Requests from residents of Peacham who have contracted COVID-19 and need assistance to pay for hospitalization, medical bills, co-pays, transportation, day care or any other extraordinary costs associated with the illness.  Supporting documentation such as outstanding bills, invoices, insurance denial letters, etc. are required.
    • Priority Two: Requests from individuals who have suffered economic hardship either because of a lay-off or the Governor’s stay-at-home orders.  Priority will be given to those whose domestic security is in jeopardy.  These considerations would include the loss of their housing, transportation, home heating, or the ability to obtain sufficient food for themselves or their families.Supporting documentation such as eviction notices, overdue bill notices, etc. would be required.
  5. All applications are due by the 15th of each month and decisions/recommendations of the Committee will be sent to the Town Clerk/Treasurer by the 30th of the month. All grant recommendations will be confidential. Additionally, payments will be made directly to vendors, landlords, hospitals, etc.
  6. Award size will depend on available funds but anticipated to be between $400 and $1,000. Applicants could apply more than once.

In the unlikely event that any funds remain following the September 30th decisions, all remaining funds will be placed in a tax relief fund to be disbursed to current Peacham residents who may have difficulty paying their taxes due to economic hardship as a result of Covid-19. Please note that since contributions to the fund would be tax deductible, they cannot be returned to the donors.