Members of the Tacoma City Council’s Economic Development Committee received an update Tuesday on the progress of the city’s broken window replacement program for businesses.
Ultimately, while many have received help, the need remains for more repairs, and not just broken windows.
“If there were additional funds (American Rescue Plan Act) available for the business community, they would be used,” Shari Hart, economic development specialist with the City of Tacoma, told committee members.
Earlier this year, the city created the Window Replacement Support Fund using $300,000 in ARPA funds. The program was intended to offset the costs incurred to replace broken windows as the city experienced a rise in crime. The project was proposed in February amid calls for more security and help with repairs. It was developed by the city’s Community and Economic Development Department.
The fund has set a limit of $2,000 in grants per address.
In an update, Hart said Tuesday that applicants receiving funds were notified on April 6 and the Chamber of Commerce was working with recipients to obtain the required documents for processing and payments.
The city received 208 requests totaling $356,216 in requests.
“We set a target parameter to fund 70% of windows already replaced with 30% set aside for those not yet repaired,” Hart said, noting that “the need was closer to 50-50.
“A lot of people wanted to know if they could get the subsidy before planning the replacement.”
She said that after triaging the applications, they then worked to distribute the grants equally to each district of the council.
“When the initial number of grants available was determined to be between 165 and 170, this meant 33 or 34 grants per council district. So, candidates in council districts that had less than 34 were all automatically funded.
She added that “the Restaurant Renovation Grant balance of the ARPA Small Business Fund Allocation has been added to the Window Replacement Fund to allow funding for more grants, bringing the total grants available at 174″, the combined fund totaling $345,467.37.
So far, 65 grants have been disbursed, 34 of which are ready for disbursement, and the Chamber is still working with 75 applicants to complete their repairs and submit paperwork, Hart said.
However, “there were several requests for additional assistance from the day after the grant application closed”, with some places having been vandalized “multiple times”, she said.
She gave the example of an unidentified company reporting “10 broken windows and $45,000 in damage in the past seven months.” Other demands have been to cover the cost of stolen air conditioning units with a reported cost of around $30,000 each time, Hart said. In addition, there have been claims for damages to metal fence, metal gates and other objects.
Hart said some companies were worried about filing insurance claims that would trigger rate increases, or that the damages weren’t covered by the company’s insurance.
She added that it would be difficult to put a figure on how many businesses could still use the money to repair broken windows, but that she hears potential applicants asking for funds “not just for the broken windows, but the reimbursement other expenses due to increased crime and vandalism.”
A $250,000 fund for short-term private security improvements, administered by neighborhood business districts using ARPA funds, is also underway.
As to whether the window program could expand, Hart told The News Tribune via email: “The next step is dependent on the availability of additional ARPA funding and, if additional ARPA funding becomes available, we will need to determine if we will update the eligibility settings. .”
This story was originally published June 30, 2022 5:00 a.m.