Bham COVID-19 Update: City passes economic stimulus plan, Bham Strong, BBA resources + more

United Way of Central Alabama’s Drew Langloh speaking at COVID – 19 news conference on March 13, 2020, discussing the Meals on Wheels program. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

In response to the nationwide coronavirus crisis that has swept Birmingham and the nation, Bham Now is working to help all of us get through this together.

Our goal: provide timely information to the community.
We will be continually adding stories, so please look for updates on our website and social media channels about this unprecedented event.

Birmingham Passes Stimulus Package

The Birmingham City Council discussed the pros and cons of this potential new program on Tuesday, Marcb 19. Photo via Birmingham City Council

On March 17, the Birmingham City Council passed Mayor Randall L. Woodfin’s $15 million COVID-19 Response Plan to fund police, fire, public works and a stimulus program for small businesses affected by the pandemic.

“This is an important message to the people of Birmingham,” said Woodfin. “Through this funding, we are committed to providing a full response to COVID-19 with our police, fire and public works. Also, we have taken the first important step to launch an economic stimulus plan for our small businesses struggling during this pandemic.”

Mayor Randall Woodfin speaking at COVID – 19 news conference on March 13, 2020, announcing the creation of the Bham Strong Fund. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

The city will utilize $15,165,333 from the General Fund Cash and Investment. This will not affect current funding of city departments and agencies.

According to the Mayor’s office, the funding will include:

  • $547,133 for personal protective equipment and supplies for first responders
  • $2,638,200 for overtime (Birmingham Fire and Rescue Service, Birmingham Police Department, Department of Public Works)
  • $880,000 for equipment and supplies to support increased teleworking to adhere to public health recommendations of social distancing (Information Management Systems Department)
  • $1 million for a small business emergency loan fund
  • $9.2 million to address the estimated budget shortfall for the next 60 days
Josh Carpenter, director of Birmingham’s Department of Innovation and Economic Opportunity will be the city’s point person with Bham Strong. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

The small business emergency loan fund, or BhamStrong Fund, is designed to:

  • provide zero-interest, 180-day loans to small businesses (less than 50 employees) of no more than $25,000 (with an average loan size of $10,000)
  • prevent staff reductions and offset losses related to COVID-19. If this can be broken into bullets, it might be easier to register.

Bham Now Creating Free Guides to Support Local Business

Bham Now is stepping up during the COVID-19 crisis offering FREE local business listings that include information on:

  • How to order online (or via phone)
  • Virtual classes
  • Curbside pickup
  • Special offers

Fill out our FORM – and share our Bham Now story with all the details – HERE.

Bham Strong to build COVID-19 Community Resource Directory

Birmingham Skyline
Big things are in store for our Magic City. Picture by Jon Eastwood for BhamNow.

Bham Strong has sent out a call for information that will help it build its Community Resource Directory.

If you have an organization that currently has a program that supports senior citizens, homeless citizens, small businesses, people worried about food, or hourly workers affected by COVID-19, please send information about your program to resources@bhamstrong.com.

Bham Strong is working to meet people’s needs

Fat Mama’s Lunchbox’s Reggie Cook in front of his Woodlawn store. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Along with the directory – If you are worried about your income because of the affects of COVID-19, please go to bhamstrong.com/income and fill out a survey so they can get you the resources you need.

If COVID-19 is affecting your access to food, please go to bhamstrong.com/food and fill out a survey so that we can connect you with support programs.

farmers market
Photo via West Homewood Farmers Market on Facebook

If COVID-19 is affecting your small business, please go to bhamstrong.com/smallbusinessresources so that we can connect you with the right resources.

Our community and economy needs everyone’s support. Visit bhamstrong.com to donate to the #BhamStrong Fund.

Birmingham Business Alliance Unveils Resources Site

Birmingham sky line, buildings
Photo via Bham Now

The Birmingham Business Alliance (BBA) has created a COVID-19 Resources for Businesses webpage.

It includes information about Bham Strong, funds established by the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham and United Way, as well as the BBA’s Bham BizHub. BBA’s staff is also listed and available to help businesses during the crisis.

Closures: Zoo and United Way Tax Prep, Parts of Railroad Park

Birmingham, Railroad Park
Photo via Railroad Park on Facebook

Since Tuesday, recent closures include:

The Birmingham Zoo
United Way Tax Prep program
Railroad Park

The Birmingham Zoo will officially close to the public on Thursday, March 19. Rest assured, zoo staff will continue to take care of all animals. There will also be a deep cleaning of the entire zoo in anticipation of re-opening at a later date.

United Way’s Tax Prep program has stopped taking one-on-one meetings. The highly successful program, which serves 3575 people annually, encourages people to visit MyFreeTaxes.com as an alternative.

Railroad Park—Birmingham’s “backyard”—is still open to crowds of less than 25. All March programs have been canceled. Playground and fitness equipment has been cordoned off from the public.

YMCA of Birmingham to Support First Responders in Need of Childcare

Birmingham
YMCA of Greater Birmingham. Photo via Facebook.

According to a letter to his membership, YMCA President Dan Pile announced that the Y is working to temporarily convert their facilities to provide emergency childcare to first responders and healthcare workers at four local hospitals.

“Over 180 YMCA childcare workers have signed on to help care for children of our healthcare communities,” added Pile.

Details here.

Ways to Volunteer to United Way, JCC and the Red Cross

Want to give back? Here are three ways you can volunteer:

United Way of Central Alabama Needs Meals on Wheels volunteers for:

Add your program to the 2-1-1 Database by emailing 211connects@uwca.org.

Jewish Community Center – The LJCC, as a Red Cross certified disaster relief/preparedness facility, is ready to help our broader Birmingham community. They are working with the City of Birmingham to provide care for children of first responders, healthcare professionals, and essential workers. They will also become a food pickup location for families who rely on schools to provide meals.

To that end, the LJCC are looking for volunteers who are not part of the vulnerable population that COVID-19 threatens the most. We are also looking for donations of packaged food (Click here to see the list of food needed). They will have a box outside of the LJCC entrance where you can drop off your donations. If you would like to help through a financial donation, please click here. If you are interested in volunteering, please click here.

American Red Cross – Blood donations are desperately needed. In Alabama alone, 53 blood drives have been canceled, meaning 2000 less donations. Nationwide, 2700 blood drives have been canceled reducing the number of blood donations by 86,000.

Please make an appointment today. It is safe, and they will take every precaution to prevent exposure to the virus. – Visit their website – HERE.

Also – if you can’t give blood, the Red Cross needs volunteers throughout their organization to confront the coronavirus and meet other needs. Sign up to volunteer. 

Previous COVID-19 Stories

United Way Meals on Wheels volunteer. Photo courtesy of United Way of Central Alabama

Bham Now is following the COVID-19 crisis daily. Please visit our past stories and guides for all you need to know.

New funds announced for small businesses + people in need in Birmingham. How to help

Birmingham, Jeffco declare COVID-19 state of emergencies, prescription re-fill info and ways to help

  • Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.