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Suffolk County is offering emergency rental assistance for residents and small business grants under a new COVID assistance program dubbed “BACKSTOP.”

The county will distribute nearly $600,000 in emergency rental assistance to residents. It will also provide nearly 150 small businesses with grants up to $10,000.

The rent program will provide a one-time rental assistance payment to eligible applicants in an amount up to 100% of one month’s rent, up to a maximum of $2,500. This program funds residents in existing rental units. The applicant will be required to fill out and sign a self-certification form to verify their income and how they were affected by the pandemic.

The COVID-19 Small Business Assistance Grant Program will distribute up to $1 million in Community Development Block Grant funding in grants of up to $10,000 to gyms, hair salons and barber shops, nail salons, restaurants, bars and taverns.

Businesses with up to 10 employees will be eligible for a maximum grant of $5,000, while businesses with 11 to 50 employees will be eligible for a maximum of $10,000 in grant funding. The program is designed to assist struggling small businesses that have been negatively impacted by the pandemic.

“We are now nine months in to this pandemic, and with cases surging once again we need to provide residents in need tangible assistance,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “This new rent relief program coupled with financial aid to struggling small businesses will provide help to some of our most vulnerable residents.”

Applications for the rent relief program are due on Jan. 15 and a lottery will be held to select awardees. For more information about the rent relief program, click here.

Business owners can apply to the grant program starting on Dec. 17. Additional eligibility details can be found here.

Riverhead small business owners needing assistance with the application process may contact the Town of Riverhead Community Development Office at (631)727-3200, ext. 238.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.