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The information included in this blog post is up to date as of publishing time but is subject to change until it is ratified and signed into law by President Biden.
Congress is working toward the ratification of a third stimulus package to alleviate the continued effects of COVID-19. The Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (Heroes) Act is expected to pass imminently, and eligible entities would need to request funding by Sept. 30, 2021.
Similar in fashion to the CARES Act legislation, the Heroes Act provides emergency grant funds for entities to reopen – and remain open – despite the pandemic or any other emergent situation that arises as a result of the pandemic. In addition to the individual stimulus allocations, the funding will be separated into various spending functions:
- Education (K-12 and higher education)
- Government (state, county, and local municipal governments)
- Health and human services (hospitals, nursing homes, and some qualifying daycares)
- Fraternal or promotional government-related authorities (chambers of commerce, convention, and visitor bureaus, stadium authorities)
- Qualifying hospitality and spectator venues
HEROES ACT FUNDING FOR EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS
Education is expected to receive $90 billion through the Heroes Act – approximately three times the amount that was allocated through the CARES Act. This funding will be made available in similar fashion to that of the CARES Act funding processes.
The key difference will be the process by which K-12 institutions can claim their allocations. With K-12 institutions, the funding process is now scheduled to be distributed directly. In the original CARES Act, states were charged by the federal government to administer the funding for the CARES Act to K-12 institutions. The misconception was that if the CARES Act funding was unclaimed, that it could be directed back into the state to balance budgets.
During this time, state allocations to schools were reduced in some states in direct correlation to the CARES Act funding. This was not the intent of the funding, and the process for distribution of these funds to K-12 is now being debated and should be announced soon.
Funding for higher education – directed to institutions through the Department of Education, Higher Education division – will be divided into two categories: one half for student assistance, distance learning, training and other administrative costs. The other half allows for each individual institution to expend funds to enable institutions to re-open, and remain open, in a safe and secure fashion.
Each individual institution is vastly different from one another, and the perception of a safe and secure campus varies by each locale. With this legislation, just as it was with the CARES Act, Congress provides each institution with the decision-making flexibility for those leaders to determine what course of action is best for their individual schools.
HEROES ACT FUNDING FOR GOVERNMENT ENTITIES
There is a large allocation for government (state, local and municipal government entities) that should eliminate the need for states to flex the school funding as it did for K-12 through the CARES Act. As of this writing, the government allocation under the Heroes Act will be approximately $200 billion.
This funding will help enable state, local and municipal governments to not only balance their budgets, but also allow for the same protections in opening their facilities and keeping them open. The allocation will help facilities to combat the negative impact of COVID-19, as well as assist government entities in keeping their constituency, properties and assets safe in the future.
USING HEROES ACT FUNDS TO ENHANCE HEALTH, SAFETY & SECURITY
It’s important that all eligible organizations request funding through the Heroes Act, as it can help them reopen, stay open and enhance health, safety and security on-site – a benefit that can last well beyond the global pandemic.
The deadline for claiming funds is scheduled to be Sept. 30, 2021, with the ability to expend the funding for one calendar year afterward.
As with the CARES Act, many life safety and security solutions qualify for funding under the Heroes Act. Creating a safe and secure environment means being able to mitigate health and safety risks by deploying solutions that, for example:
- Help with managing social distancing
- Allow entities to screen individuals for masks and potential health concerns
- Automate occupancy tracking
- Enhance emergency communications through mass notification or fire alarm signaling
Other measures of safety may include implementing intrusion detection, video surveillance, access control, gunshot or weapons detection, or other means to help keep facilities and campus environments safe.
Additionally, Alyssa’s Law – a federal mandate requiring all public elementary and secondary schools be equipped with silent panic alert systems – is being drafted. While the legislation mandates the implementation of emergency communications, as of this writing, there is no plan to provide federal funding to implement this technology.
However, an educational institution could use Heroes Act funding to invest in an interoperable communication platform that allows for instantaneous communication from the classroom to first responders and law enforcement.
HELPING HEALTHCARE AND COMMERCIAL ORGANIZATIONS PROGRESS
Each healthcare facility across the U.S. has individual needs based upon how the entity operates. However, the need to screen employees and visitors, view and manage various gathering places within the facility and communicate seamlessly with emergency personnel are all common demands that Heroes Act funding can help satisfy.
For commercial facilities, the IRS allowed for a 100% deduction in 2020 for the enhancements of life safety and security. It is unclear if the Heroes Act legislation will contain similar wording for 2021; however, the extension of the CARES Act through January 31, 2021, may indicate that this deduction could be extended until the end of December 2021.
FIND A PARTNER TO HELP YOU NAVIGATE THE HEROES ACT
SONITROL stands ready to consult with you and your institutions, businesses, healthcare facilities or governmental bodies to develop a life safety and security strategy that enables you to take advantage of the funding through the Heroes Act.
We can help your organization assess and respond to your security needs today, and help you plan for the future. SONITROL consultants will work collaboratively with you and guide you through the process of identifying life safety and security vulnerabilities and identifying the various funding avenues available through the stimulus and beyond.
Make SONITROL part of your plan and your team. Reach out to us for additional information, and to set up your consultation with an expert in the security industry.
Contact us today.
Written by Joesph Wall, STANLEY Security Regional Sales Manager
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