HARTFORD, CT — Nonprofit organizations that have been struggling to take care of the developmentally disabled and maintain an adequate supply of personal protective equipment were dealt another blow Monday by Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration.
The Department of Developmental Services, which administers funding to nonprofits who care for the developmentally disabled through state contracts, told them not to expect any coronavirus relief funds if they received a Paycheck Protection Program grant through a bank.
“The state has decided that providers that received PPP loans may not receive CRF [Coronavirus Relief Funds],” Scott McWilliams, chief fiscal officer, wrote. “Therefore, DDS will ask providers to report how much they have received in PPP loans and will recoup CRF payments from any provider that received PPP.”
Lamont said Monday that he was aware that the issue was under debate, but he was not aware that a decision had been made.
“We did take a look to see who got PPP loans,” Lamont said. “Because it obviously helped tide them over a little bit, but that doesn’t preclude from also getting some COVID relief money.”
Gian Carl Casa, president and CEO of CT Community Nonprofit Alliance, said that for the organizations who received PPP loans, there were limits on what the funds could pay for.
“They do not cover the cost of personal protective equipment (PPE), for example. Additional state funds were to cover these and other extraordinary costs. While some of the PPP loans may be forgiven, the federal rules have changed repeatedly and nonprofits may need to pay them back,” Casa said.
He said nonprofits are still on the front lines of providing mental health care, substance abuse treatment, and residential services for people with developmental disabilities.
“Our members have struggled to find PPE to protect staff and clients, revamped technology to provide telehealth services, reconfigured offices to allow for safe social distancing, purchased additional cleaning supplies and increased costs for food — all unbudgeted costs that are not covered by PPP or current state funding,” Casa said.
He said this policy will likely mean there will be fewer nonprofits and service providers in the future.
“If nonprofits are arbitrarily denied federal and state support during this pandemic, regardless of revenue losses or other increased costs due to COVID because they got federal loans to pay their employees, they will not be able to make ends meet,” Casa said. “Nonprofits that provide vital human services will close their doors and the state will lose its safety net.”
Connecticut received $1.4 billion from the federal government as part of the CARES Act.
Congress is currently debating another relief package. It’s unclear if it would include more aid to cities and states. The White House seems to be against the idea of giving more money to states.
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy has said the Trump administration has refused to give more money to states when they are the ones conducting the response to the pandemic, “because the federal government refuses to do it.”
The Republicans have pitched a $1 trillion package, while the Democratic package passed by the House in May is $3 trillion.
The legislation is expected to include another round of direct payments, like the CARES Act did in the spring. There’s also discussion of a workplace tax credit to help businesses with the cost of testing and PPE and an employee retention tax credit.
Labor unions gathered Monday in Hartford to call on Congress to pass the HEROES Act, which would provide more PPE and hazard pay, as well as extend unemployment benefits to essential workers, including building workers, janitors, and security guards.