NEW JERSEY — Standing before a wall of kegs Tuesday, Gov. Phil Murphy spoke of a new $100 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds that will go toward New Jersey businesses and residents hit the hardest by the global health crisis. 

“We're ready to help businesses like Flounder Brewing not just get through this unprecedented time but emerge, primed and ready for growth,” Murphy said in Hillsborough Township at a coronavirus press briefing this afternoon.

The CARES Act funds will be dispersed to the following:

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  • $70 million to restaurants, micro-businesses, and other small businesses through Phase 3 of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program ($35 million targeted to help our food-service industry & $15 million to help micro-businesses)
  • $10 million to help small businesses purchase Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) through the NJEDA Small and Micro Business PPE Access Program
  • $15 million to support renters through the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program
  • $5 million will support food banks and other hunger relief efforts

“We are under no illusions that this is enough. We are still in the midst of this crisis,” said Congressman Tom Malinowski, who was also joined by other Democratic leaders including Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester), Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex) and U.S. Senator Bob Menendez. “We see signs that it is spiking again, we are worried about what is going to happen as the weather gets colder."

"I'm particularly pleased that this...round of assistance is being directed to our most struggling or most vulnerable small businesses, particularly restaurants and bars and dining establishments. We have asked so much of them, they are the mainstay of our community, and they are going to need more help," the congressman added.

As further negotiations take place in Washington, Malinowski said he and others are prioritizing more loans for small business owners, support for schools and a grant program for restaurants, bars and entertainment facilities.

Another $12 million in New Jersey Department of Human Services (DHS) funds were also announced — money that will give a boost to the state’s rental/mortgage assistance program.

“Since the emergency rental assistance program initially launched in July, we have received nearly 60,000 applications,” said Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver. “We know that the need is great. With this new funding, we will continue to serve the needs of eligible individuals who have already applied for the program. So if any of your constituencies applied back in July, and they were unable to be accommodated, please tell them to check their emails and their mail every day. As we are contacting more people from the waitlist.” 

The New Jersey Republican Party said in a statement that Tuesday marks 200 days since the first CARES Act passed Congress - indicating through a state auditor's report that just 10% of the $2.4 billion passed has been doled out.    

“Phil Murphy has been watching New Jersey drown while he uses our life preserver as a hoola hoop,” said NJGOP Chairman Doug Steinhardt. “It’s inconceivable that Murphy sat on this relief for this long while New Jerseyans drowned. We deserve answers.”

As of Tuesday, the Garden State has confirmed nearly 1,000 more positive coronavirus cases (993), seven more deaths and 649 people requiring hospitalization statewide. The state of 9 million has now totaled at least 215,085 cases, 14,394 confirmed deaths and another 1,788 “probable” deaths since the outbreak began in March.

“The $100 million announced today will supplement the $115 million in CARES Act funds already allocated for economic development and re-employment programs and the $100 million allocated for housing assistance programs,” the governor’s office said in a statement.

On Friday, the Department of Human Services announced its new Housing Assistance Program, which will use $12 million from the CARES Act to provide rental or mortgage assistance payments on behalf of eligible households that have suffered a financial hardship due to COVID-19.

Watch Tuesday's press briefing here:

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