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Cd'A authorizes $50,000 for hospitality worker relief

by CRAIG NORTHRUP
Staff Writer | October 21, 2020 1:00 AM

After a summer immersed in COVID-19 left the tourism industry all but devastated, the Coeur d’Alene city council voted to divert $50,000 in federal funds to CDAIDE to help local hospitality industry workers persevere into the winter slowdown.

An estimated 7,000 hospitality workers live in Coeur d’Alene, according to Chelsea Nesbit, community development specialist for the city, 83 percent of whom do not have employer-based health care and 79 percent of whom do not have paid sick leave. Nesbit said most fall into low-to-middle-income brackets and represent an ALICE population — which stands for “Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed,” a group that often lives paycheck to paycheck.

The council briefly debated whether or not to only provide $25,000 to CDAIDE at first, as $50,000 represents, by far, the largest cut of federal CARES Act funds doled out to Coeur d’Alene up to this point.

But just as the state divvied up federal funds to municipalities to use as they see fit, council member Kiki Miller pointed out that, CDAIDE — a community-based nonprofit originally born in 2014 as the strategic planning arm of Coeur d’Alene’s First Presbyterian Church — the volunteers reaching out to struggling hospitality workers have a better idea of what those workers and their families need.

“I think, right now, this money is going to go to bills that are already behind,” Miller said. “By reducing the amount, we’re going to reduce the number of people or the number of months that we can catch some of these people up...We’re just delaying the inevitable by shorting the request.”

Council member Woody McEvers said withholding funds without fully knowing how the future will play out was unnerving, but that COVID-19 was teaching everyone to adapt.

“I think it’s worth a try,” McEvers said. “I don’t like giving money to (situations) you’re not sure about, but this is kind of opening up a new place we haven’t been before, in my mind."

The move passed unanimously.