ALPHARETTA, Ga. — Charities that are helping those hurt most by the COVID economy got some extra help themselves Nov. 16 when the Alpharetta City Council awarded grants to five nonprofits serving the area.

The money comes from a portion of the city’s $2.8 million award of federal CARES Act relief aid.

Last month, the City Council committed $50,000 of its fund to the Alpharetta Convention and Visitors Bureau to launch a campaign promoting the city as a destination site. City officials said the local hotel market has borne a lot of the brunt from the pandemic, and reviving business and tourism is essential in keeping the sector running.

Alpharetta has some 30 hotels, almost twice the number as its nearest neighbors. Besides serving as a magnet for corporate clients and regional sporting events, those rooms bring the city around $9 million a year in special hotel-motel taxes.

City officials have yet to adopt a strategy to distribute the remainder of its CARES Act allotment, about $2.5 million, but the general consensus has been to use it to help small businesses suffering because of the pandemic.

The grants the city awarded last week are from a special Vulnerable Population Grant Program local officials set up to help individuals and families. The program received $280,000 in funding.

Mayor Jim Gilvin said distribution of public funds for relief is new territory, and he thanked the staff and council for coming up “with a program in the short term to get the money to the people that need it and organizations that can get it in their hands.”

Alpharetta Finance Director Tom Harris said a council-approved team composed of city staff selected five nonprofits to receive the grants. The nonprofits will use the money to help individuals or families struggling with mortgage or rent payments, food, utilities or other expenses.

The list includes:

-        Fulton Education Foundation — $50,000 grant to provide housing, utility, food security and mental health services.

-        Lionheart School — $25,000 grant to provide distance learning support and emergency financial needs.

-        North Fulton Community Charities — $50,000 grant to provide housing, financial assistance and food security.

-        St. Vincent de Paul — $50,000 grant to offer food security, housing and utility assistance.

-        Summit Counseling — $50,000 grant to provide mental health services.

Harris said an application submitted by North Metro Atlanta Miracle League is incomplete and cannot be fully considered at this time, but that staff will work with the organization to obtain necessary documentation to advance a grant recommendation in the future. A balance of $55,000 remains in the grant fund.

In order to receive reimbursement, Harris said each organization must provide certification that the money spent has gone to benefit an Alpharetta resident or family.

The City Council approved the grant awards on a vote of 5-1, with Councilman Johns Hipes, who serves on the board of North Fulton Community Charities, recused.

Councilman Ben Burnett voted against the measure. At a meeting to discuss the grant program last month, Burnett said he objects to turning over responsibility to administer the funding to any organization outside the direct control of elected officials.

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