Grants for Peacham residents impacted by financial emergencies
The Selectboard of the Town of Peacham has established the Peacham Emergency 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 or other financial emergencies. Funds will be used to help residents directly affected from an unforeseen emergency such as a house fire, storm damage, etc. As well as 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 Emergency 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 Emergency 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 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: Emergency 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.
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.
Priority will be given first to those individuals or families who are year round residents of Peacham who are having financial emergencies, but priority given to those directly affected by the Covid 19 virus. 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 Emergency 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 Miniciello). 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 current 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.
- Applicants need to complete a simple one page application available on-line or from the Town Clerk.
- 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.
- The redacted application will be sent to all Committee members within 5 days of receipt.
- 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 the on-going economic effect of the pandemic or another unforeseen emergency. Priority will be given to those whose domestic security is in jeopardy. These considerations would include the loss of 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. may or may not be required.
- All applications are accepted anytime and decisions/recommendations of the Committee will be sent to the Town Clerk/Treasurer after the Committee makes a final decision. All grant recommendations would be confidential. Additionally, payments would be made directly to vendors, landlords, hospitals, etc.
- Award size will depend on available funds but anticipated to be between $200 and $2,000. Applicants could apply more than once.
Vermont 211 is the statewide referral agency that provides listings of financial and other
assistance agencies by county. “… Community Action Agencies (CAAs) are non-governmental agencies that can provide assistance such as financial help with residential utility bills, if the utility has issued a disconnection notice.”
Besides the financial assistance PERF can offer, offering a list of resources applicants can use to find their way through to [additional] help may be useful to them. Not just email addresses, but telephone numbers as well may be more helpful for some.