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October brings new city CARES programs

City of Kenai

The Kenai Peninsula Borough recently closed its second phase of CARES grants to businesses and nonprofits located outside city limits. But the cities of Kenai and Soldotna are just getting started on their second rounds for small businesses, in addition to several new programs.

Starting today, eligible Kenai businesses and nonprofits can apply for grants that will be equal in amount to those offered by the borough. These grants will be larger than those offered in the first round, said City Manager Paul Ostrander.

“We still have $2.7 million that has been allocated for small business grants,” Ostrander said. “So that will bring the total amount of grants to small businesses and nonprofits within the city of Kenai to $4.98 million, almost $5 million, to small businesses and nonprofits.”

That’s about half of the total grant money the city of Kenai received for its relief programs. Applications for this round close at the end of the month.

Kenai and Soldotna are also offering a housing assistance program. Qualifying households can apply for four months of rental assistance or mortgage relief, and may receive up to $1,200 a month. Applications for that program are open through December to households with annual income less than $71,760.

Soldotna’s plans also include a second phase of small business grants, sad Laura Rhyner, assistant to the city manager.

“The application process is really similar to the phase one grants,” she said. “The difference is that this round is focused specifically on businesses that have seen a drop in their sales related to COVID-19. And then we’ve also expanded it to include what we call very small businesses.”

The small business grants will be offered in two categories: Soldotna businesses that experienced drops in sales during the pandemic, as well as smaller businesses with annual revenues between $15,000 and $25,000.

City of Soldotna

The awards this round are also larger. Before, residents could receive up to 5 percent of their gross sales from 2019. This round, they can receive 15 percent, with a cap at $35,000.

Soldotna is also offering economic relief for households that can prove they have been impacted by the pandemic, in amounts up to $1,500 per household. 

That program and Soldotna’s small businesses program are open to applicants through Oct. 30.

Both cities have free food box programs, conducted in partnership with the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank to help families struggling with food security.

Rhyner said residents should apply for these programs even if they’re not sure whether they qualify.

“These funds, they run out at the end of the year,” Rhyner said. “And so we're really encouraging folks — If you’re not sure if you qualify for one of these programs, give us a call and we’re happy to sort of talk you through the process or answer questions and … if you don’t qualify for our program, maybe point you in the direction of some other type of support.

Grants will be offered on a rolling basis.

To apply for small business relief in Kenai, visit

To apply for household or small business relief in Soldotna, visit

For housing relief in Kenai, visit For housing relief in Soldotna, visit

Sabine Poux is the news director at KDLL. Originally from New York, she's lived and reported in Argentina and Vermont, where she fell in love with local news. She covers all things central peninsula but is especially interested in stories related to energy and fishing. She'd love to hear your ideas at
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