Welcome to SARPC's digital newsletter. Our goal is to publish a newsletter bi-monthly that provides highlights of projects and activities being undertaken at the agency. If you have any questions or would like to request additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us.
In This Issue
FROM OUR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

As we continue to navigate through this uncharted health crisis, I want our readership to know that this agency continues to provide and administer programs, initiatives and resources within our region. Our office remains open with limited staff and no public access. Thanks to modern technology most of the SARPC staff can work remotely and remain effective and functional. Our phone system has been modified, enabling each department to be contacted. With cell phones and laptops, SARPC business can be conducted efficiently. Please let me know if we can help you in any way.  THANKS.

John F. "Rickey" Rhodes

Executive Director
South Alabama Regional Planning Commission
Post Office Box 1665
Mobile, AL 36633                                                                   
Business Line: (251) 433-6541
Direct: (251) 706-4667
Cell: (251) 421-9400
Fax: (251) 433-6009


TRANSPORTATION

Mobile MPO Updates

Mobile MPO Policy Committee Meeting  POSTPONED

The 25 Year Long Range Transportation Plan (Envision 2045) is on the agenda for adoption.  There was a public meeting concerning the LRTP Envision 2045, on January 29th with very limited comments. The draft plan, and all of the comments from the early public involvement can be found at  www.Envision2045.org.  If you would like a hard copy of the plan to review, please let me know.  At this point, the I-10 Mobile River Bridge is not in the fiscally constrained LRTP, yet is a Visionary Project. Also on the agenda is a transit Program of Projects for the FTA 5310 funding.


Envision2045

The Mobile Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is currently updating its Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) for the Mobile Urban Area. LRTPs are multimodal plans that set priorities for spending federal funds on transportation projects in the Mobile Urban Area over the next 25 years.  Envision2045 is multi-modal in scope,  and projects include improvements to highways, roads, bridges, transit facilities and service, bicycle and pedestrian routes, and related enhancements.  Regional growth, economic development, and accessibility within the study area along with environmental concerns necessitate that the long-range plan addresses not only improved vehicular travel but also improvements to alternative modes. Preservation of the existing transportation system coupled with enhancement of all modal choices will contribute to the improvement of the overall quality of life in the region.

SARPC conducted an online survey in 2019 to give the public a chance on to comment on what is most important in terms of transportation in the Mobile Urbanized Area, to help guide the 25 Year LRTP. Click  HERE  for results.
 
A public input meeting on the draft  Envision 2045 LRTP was held Wednesday, January 29th from 4:00 pm to 6:30 pm, providing the public a chance to provide input.


RPO Updates

HSCTP Public Meeting Postponed

In consideration of health concerns of participants regarding COVID-19, the South Alabama Regional Planning Commission will postpone the Human Services Coordinated Transportation Plan Public Meeting that was scheduled for Wednesday, March 18th at the GM&O Building. The meeting will be rescheduled at a later date. We welcome your comments and questions regarding the plan. If you wish, you may contact us via email at transportation@sarpc.org or by phone at (251) 433 6541.
 
As part of this effort we are surveying transit providers, riders, and other stakeholders in our region. Please take a moment to answer the following questions and email them back to us.
 
Your participation is greatly appreciated.
 
Name of your Organization:
Does your organization operate a transit vehicle? If so,
How many vehicles?
How many seats per vehicle?
What is/are the funding sources for your vehicle(s)?
What is your service area?
Do you use or need transit services to get around? If so, which one(s)?
What unmet needs are there in your area?
Things like later hours, rural areas where transit service is needed but isn't available, etc.?
Do you have any suggestions as to how these needs could be met?
Will you be applying for 5310 funding? If so, what will you be applying for?

Mobile Area Transit System Feasibility Study

Over the years, the viability of transit in the underserved segments of Mobile County has been an important task to consider. The ability to connect those populations with daily needs and employment could be an important step in improving the quality of life for residents.

Recent advancements in technology have given rise to new transit opportunities, and the Mobile Metropolitan Planning Organization / South Alabama Regional Planning Commission are currently engaged in studying the feasibility of a demand response transit model for our County. The demand response transit model uses a technology system to connect those in need of a ride with the provider based on the most efficient route and timing of other riders as well.
 
An important step in determining the feasibility of such a system includes talking with important stakeholders in the county. To future these efforts, a stakeholder roundtable meeting was held earlier this week. It is our hope that participating in this roundtable will help our consulting group gather information on the populations in need of improved transit access in Mobile County.
 
SARPC staff and Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood met with the LeMoyne Citizen Advisory Panel  (LCAP) and presented the study las month. It was somewhat well received, with mixed emotions about commuting for shift employees.  The further we dig into discovering possibilities of transit outside the WAVE, the more challenges we seem to be finding.
Via is currently working on funding scenarios, and peer reviews.  This week there were conversations with ALDOT, SARPC and VIA concerning funding scenarios. 

Transportation Improvement Program( TIP)

The TIP represents a four year program (2020-2023) for improvements in the various transportation systems located within the Mobile study area as identified in the Mobile MPO's Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP), the twenty-five year plan for the Mobile Urban Area Destination 2040. The LRTP establishes the transportation programs that are needed to meet travel demand by the study year and study area. LRTP projects that become funded are moved into the TIP and submitted to the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT), where they are programmed into the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). For MPO projects, TIP project selection is based on priorities established by MPO member governments and the availability of funds through the Surface Transportation Attributable program. For other projects, ALDOT has discretion of project funding based on availability of funds from various types of funding categories.  Most often, projects in the TIP are derived from the LRTP. The TIP guides ALDOT in its annual allocation of funds for transportation improvements and becomes a part of the STIP.
 
ArcGIS Online is now being utilized by MPO staff to map all federally funded surface transportation projects within our area. Check it out.
 
2020-2023 E-TIP HERE





COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

Funding & Resource Announcements

DRA Invites Applications for 2020 States' Economic Development Assistance Program

The Delta Regional Authority (DRA) is opening the 2020 application cycle for the States' Economic Development Assistance Program (SEDAP).  SEDAP, which provides direct investments into community-based and regional projects that address the DRA's congressionally mandated four funding priorities, is the main investment tool used by the DRA.  All necessary information for application consideration can be found in the  2020 SEDAP Manual. Organizations and communities can apply online at  funding.dra.gov

The deadline to submit applications is May 31, 2020, and funds are available to DRA's footprint of 252 counties and parishes in Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee.
 
March 30 / June 30 Deadline: Apply for Priority Consideration through USDA's Strategic Economic and Community Development Program.
Through the Strategic Economic and Community Development (SECD) authority in the 2018 Farm Bill, USDA has set aside a portion of funding in four programs, for rural projects that support regional economic and community development planning, such as CEDS. The four programs are:

(1)   Community Facilities Loans, Grants and Loan Guarantees
(2)   Water and Waste Disposal Program Loans, Grants and Loan Guarantees
(3)   Business & Industry Program Loan Guarantees
(4)   Rural Business Development Grants
 
To apply for the funding, applicants must meet underlying program requirements and submit Application Form (Form RD 1980-88) along with other application materials to the nearest USDA office. Consideration for regional development priority will be based on:
  • How well the project supports a multi-jurisdictional plan, and
  • How well the plan addresses collaboration and investments from other federal and philanthropic agencies.
Program funds available under SECD expire on current application deadline for each program or June 30, 2020, whichever comes first. For Rural Business Development Grants, e.g. the earlier deadline for that program of March 30, 2020 applies.
 
For more information on how this SECD prioritization works, please contact your local  USDA Rural Development office or Gregory Batson at  Gregory.Batson@usda.gov. More details can also viewed at page 11947 of the Feb. 28, 2020, Federal Register: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2020-02-28/pdf/2020-04031.pdf 
 
 
Capital Access and  Entrepreneurship
 
SBA To Provide Small Businesses Impacted by Coronavirus (COVID-19) Up to $2 Million in Disaster Assistance Loans
 
SBA issued a press release on March 12, 2020 , outlining additional loan assistance it can make available to support businesses disrupted by Coronavirus. The process begins with a request from a state's or territory's Governor to SBA, for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration, that can in turn, be used by SBA to make loans available to small businesses and private, non-profit organizations in designated areas of a state or territory to help alleviate economic injury caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Visit SBA webpage for additional guidance for businesses regarding COVID-19, including these excerpts regarding the Economic Injury Loans:
 
  • These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can't be paid because of the disaster's impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere; businesses with credit available elsewhere are not eligible. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%.
  • SBA offers loans with long-term repayments in order to keep payments affordable, up to a maximum of 30 years. Terms are determined on a case-by-case basis, based upon each borrower's ability to repay.
  • For additional information, please contact the SBA disaster assistance customer service center. Call 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 1-800-877-8339) or e-mail disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.
 
Community Facilities Technical Assistance and Training Grant
USDA Rural Development is accepting Fiscal Year 2020 applications for grants to help rural communities expand their capacity to access financial resources for economic development. Electronic Application Deadline: April 30, 2020 via grants.gov | Paper Application Deadline: May 5, 2020
 
EPA Announces $2.7B for Water Infrastructure State RLFs
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the availability of $2.7 billion for State Revolving Funds. The SRF programs function like infrastructure banks by providing low-interest loans to eligible recipients. Assistance is provided directly from state agencies. Visit these EPA webpages to find the relevant state contact:  https://www.epa.gov/dwsrf and  https://www.epa.gov/cwsrf.
.
  • Applicant Workshops & TA: USDA is hosting technical assistance and training webinars across the country. For dates, visit www.usda.gov/reconnect/events.
 
Opportunity  Zones
 
In January, EDA made available two new resources to support local development strategies that seek to increase investment and job growth in Opportunity Zones and other distressed areas:
 
  • CEDS Guidance Updated with Opportunity Zone Resources. EDA has updated the CEDS Content Guidelines to help communities across the country to maximize their ability to attract investment to Opportunity Zones. Find the updated CEDS content guidelines here: https://www.eda.gov/files/ceds/CEDS-Content-Guidelines-full.pdf
  • USA Opportunity Zone Mapping Tool -U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration (EDA), Indiana University (IU) and its Kelley School of Business launched the USA Opportunity Zones tool. The tool resides on the StatsAmerica platform. The tool combines location information for OZs with reports that list the EDDs and University Center programs serving the area, as well as nearby EDA investments and other demographic and economic metrics.
 
View these additional tools and resources for OZs:
  • View EDA investments in projects located in and around Opportunity Zones here.
Compilation of Federal Actions and Resources supporting OZs.

Available on HUD's Opportunity Now, Opportunity Zones at: https://opportunityzones.hud.gov/ .
 
Final Regulations on Opportunity Zones Final rules issued by US Treasury and IRS in December 2019 are available at  www.irs.gov. Updated FAQs are also available.
 
Open Federal Funding Opportunities:
 
Below is a list of previously highlighted funding opportunities that are still open. Enter the Opportunity Number in Grants.gov to see announcement details. You can also search Grants.gov for a full list of current federal opportunities, including programs not listed below.
 
Opportunity Number
Opportunity Title
Agency
 
Posted Date
Close Date
 
FY 2020 EDA Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance Programs
DOC-EDA
 
10/18/2019
Open
FY 2019 EDA Disaster Supplemental
DOC-EDA
 
08/13/2019
Open
HUD's FY2020 and FY2021 Distressed Cities TA Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA)
HUD
 
11/26/2019
Open
NIST MEP Disaster Assessment Program
DOC-NIST
 
01/17/2020
Open
Fiscal Year 2020 H2@Scale New Markets FOA
DOE-GFO
 
01/23/2020
04/20/2020
NIST Small Business Innovation Research Program Phase I
DOC-NIST
 
02/18/2020
04/22/2020
FY 2020 Helping Obtain Prosperity for Everyone Program
DOT-FTA
 
03/03/2020
05/04/2020
FY 2020 National Infrastructure Investments
DOT
 
02/18/2020
05/18/2020
Port Infrastructure Development Grants
DOT-MA
 
02/18/2020
05/18/2020
FY 2020 FY2021 SBIR Phase II RFA
USDA-NIFA
 
02/07/2020
05/27/2020
 
Public Meetings, Events and Training USDA Webinar: Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI)
Join USDA Rural Development's Community Facilities Program on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 at 2:00 PM Eastern Time to learn how to apply for Rural Community Development Initiative Program grants. These grants are for qualified intermediaries to provide capacity building assistance to help improve housing and community facilities, and to implement community and economic development projects in rural areas.
Participants will learn about program requirements, scoring criteria and application deadlines. Register today!
 
APLU's Learning Exchange Forum: Rural Engagement for Resilient Communities
The American Public & Land-Grant Universities ( APLU) is excited to provide a new monthly forum for those who are working in and/or are interested in supporting rural communities. Members of the forum will exchange best practices, engage philanthropic, private sector, and government funders, and more. Topics include:
  • MAY- Rural Opportunity Zones
  • JUNE- No Meeting. Join the CECE-CoR Joint Summer Meeting in State College, PA.
  • JULY- Infrastructure Development
  • AUGUST- Rural Workforce Development
  • SEPTEMBER- General Rural Economic and Demographic Trends
  • OCTOBER- Value Added Food Manufacturing
     
 
Disaster Recovery Resources & Info

Where to Find Federal Disaster Declarations
  • Amended Declarations: Existing Declarations may be subsequently amended to expand covered areas, provide notification that an incident has been closed, or make other necessary changes.
 
Funding and other Assistance Available for Economic Recovery:COVID-19 Announcements:

The situation is rapidly changing, and new announcements are being issued frequently. Some of the following may be of particular interest to economic development stakeholders:
 
Coronavirus Disease 2019 National Emergency Declaration

President Trump has declared a nationwide emergency for COVID-19. This  declaration increases federal support to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in its role as the lead federal agency for the federal government's response. 
 
Visit this webpage for a list of declarations by State
 
CDC Guidance for Individuals, Businesses and Community Organizations:
For more information on coronavirus, please visit:  cdc.gov/COVID19.For current information and guidance regarding COVID-19, including guidance for Businesses and Employers, please visit the Center for Disease Control's  COVID-19  webpage at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

Resources on this site include:
SBA Guidance for Small Businesses Affected by COVID-19
Health and government officials are working together to maintain the safety, security, and health of the American people. Small businesses are encouraged to do their part to keep their employees, customers, and themselves healthy.
 
USDA Community Facilities TA and Training Grants for Disaster Recovery

USDA is making $7.5 million in grants available through the Community Facilities TA and Training Grant s : Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act . These funds can help rural communities continue their recovery from the devastating effects of hurricanes, fires, tornadoes, floods and other natural disasters. Electronic Application Deadline: April 30, 2020 via grants.gov | Paper Application Deadline: May 5, 2020

The U.S. Census is Happening Now!

Visit the official Alabama Counts Census website at  Census.Alabama.gov



EMPLOYMENT & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT



 
Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP)

At the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) quarterly meeting on February 12, the guest speaker was Joel Sterling of the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Center. Mr. Sterling shared vital information regarding job search and assistance to attendees.
 
Additionally, mentioned again, was the importance of each individual to complete the 2020 census information for the benefit of our communities as a whole.
 
We are delighted to announce two of the SCSEP participants were transferred out of the program and into unsubsidized employment.
 
March brought unprecedented circumstances to every aspect of life. The office of the Alabama Department of Senior Services was able to implement Emergency Sick Leave Policy which continued benefits to our participants. It was a matter of getting through the situation and then working to get things back to a new normal. Get partnerships pulled together to make a difference.

Mature Staffing Service (MSS)
 
In this unprecedented time, MSS was instrumental in assisting governmental entities and non-profit organizations locate and place workers in strategic areas. Where some of our clients were forced to process a partial layoff others soared in their demands. MSS will continue to stand up to the challenge. MSS is ready to assist in any staffing situation we are able to fulfill.
 
Revolving Loan Fund
 
Even during the challenging time, the SARPC Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) program was assisting entrepreneurs with start-up assistance and other funding needs as well. The Small Business Council network was active in making contacts to further funding and technical guidance to businesses in need. It is our belief these collaborative efforts will make a significant impact in the restoration of our communities.
 
If you are interested in learning more about our Revolving Loan Fund please call 251-652-0585.

AREA AGENCY ON AGING


Area Agency on Aging Maintains Essential Services for Seniors
 
By Julie McGee, Area Agency on Aging Director
 
While all senior centers in South Alabama remain closed, the Area Agency on Aging staff are all working, most remotely but with a small crew at the offices of the South Alabama Regional Planning Commission.  Our priorities are:  keeping meals going out to our seniors served through the Senior SAIL Nutrition Center; increasing meals to seniors who are homebound, and adding seniors who, due to social distancing, need meals delivered; serving our 800 elderly and disabled who receive in-home services through our Medicaid Waiver program; and being available to answer calls into our Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) from older adults, caregivers and agencies needing information and assistance.
 
Senior Meals

We are happy to report that all 27 of the Senior SAIL Nutrition Centers in our region are still getting meals out to the seniors they serve.  Twenty (20) of the senior centers are still able to have their staff and volunteers come into closed senior centers to get out hot "to-go" meals for their seniors and hot home delivered meals.  The other 7 sites have been able to get out either canned shelf stable meals or frozen meals, provided through the statewide food vendor, GA Foods.  We are grateful for all these unsung heroes who make sure our seniors have food in these difficult days.
 
We are expecting new federal funds to expand the meal program, primarily through home delivered frozen meals, which include milk and bread.  We anticipate the eligibility criteria to become more flexible to reach older adults who are homebound due to social distancing and inability to shop.  The Area Agency on Aging is gearing up, hoping to add 100 new seniors in the next couple of weeks, and to serve increased numbers of seniors as funds and the capacity of GA Foods to deliver more meals gears up. 
 
Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC)
 
Currently we have 2 staff in the office daily answering calls to our ADRC line, (251) 706-4680, 1-800-243-5463 or through SARPC's mainline, 433-6541.  In addition, 2 other staff are handling calls remotely.  We see this as an essential service as senior centers throughout our region are closed, and seniors and their families need information about services now more than ever.  We are currently operating 8:00 to 4:30 daily.

Medicaid Waiver Program
 
Essential services continue to be provided in the home for our elderly and disabled served through our Medicaid Wavier program.  Persons served are frail or have multiple disabilities and require help at home to delay or avoid nursing home placement.  These services include personal care, homemaker, respite care, meals, etc.  Most of our case managers are able to work remotely, with their monthly monitoring visits now done by phone.  Supervisory staff are available in the office to manage calls and support the majority of the staff who are working remotely.  We continue to be able to add new clients, and are taking new referrals as usual.
 
Other Aging Programs
 
The Area Agency on Aging, like our community partners, has cancelled all events and we are not accepting visitors to our office due to COVID-19.  However, all our programs are still operating, and staff have forwarded their phones to their remote locations and return messages left by phone or email. Please like our Facebook page "Aging South Alabama" and visit our website, www.aginginfo@sarpc.org for updates.


U.S. Administration on Community Living (ACL) March 29, 2020 

Supporting Community Living during COVID-19: CARES Act and Civil Rights Protections 
 
The President has signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, into law. The Act provides a total of $2.2 trillion, with $955 million directed to ACL programs.  On Saturday, the HHS Office of Civil Rights issued a bulletin to protect people with disabilities from unlawful discrimination in decisions about their treatment during the COVID-19 health care emergency. Together, these will provide significant support to older adults and people with disabilities. The U.S. Administration on Community Living (ACL) is the primary source of federal funding for aging and disability services to Area Agencies on Aging across the nation.


OCR Bulletin: Civil Rights, HIPAA, and the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

The U.S. Office of Civil Rights (OCR) provided a bulletin to ensure that entities covered by civil rights authorities keep in mind their obligations under laws and regulations that prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age, sex, and exercise of conscience and religion in HHS-funded programs. The bulletin states that, "...persons with disabilities should not be denied medical care on the basis of stereotypes, assessments of quality of life, or judgments about a person's relative "worth" based on the presence or absence of disabilities or age. Decisions by covered entities concerning whether an individual is a candidate for treatment should be based on an individualized assessment of the patient and his or her circumstances, based on the best available objective medical evidence."

CARES Act

A total of $955 million will be provided to existing grantees in the aging and disability networks, including State Units on Aging and Centers for Independent Living, as well as to Tribes and tribal organizations. The CARES Act includes:
  • $200M for Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) under Title III-B of the Older Americans Act (OAA);
  • $480M for nutrition programs under Title III-C of the OAA;
  • $20M for nutrition and related services for Native American Programs under Title VI of the OAA;
  • $100M for the National Family Caregiver Support Program under Title III-E of the OAA;
  • $20M for the Ombudsman Program under Title VII of the OAA;
  • $50M for Aging and Disability Resource Centers; and
  • $85M for Centers for Independent Living under Title VII, Part C, Chapter I of the Rehabilitation Act.
ACL staff currently are developing FAQs and other technical assistance materials. We will share these in the coming days through our resource centers and  our COVID-19 page. These will include:
  • Programmatic and fiscal FAQs for Centers for Independent Living
  • Updates to the FAQs for nutrition services providers, which will address both the provisions of the CARES Act and other questions we have received about how waivers for Daily Reference Intake requirements affect eligibility for the Nutrition Services Incentive Program, working with food banks, contracting with food vendors, coordination with FEMA, and more
  • Information on reporting requirements for COVID-19 services
  • FAQs related to ADRC funding including timing, eligibility, and how states can use the funds to address COVID-19 needs.
In addition, we will update the Fiscal FAQ (for Older Americans Act programs) to reflect the increase in the allowance for administration costs that went into effect with reauthorization.

CARES Act Highlights

In addition to this supplemental funding, there are many provisions in the CARES Act that will benefit people with disabilities, older adults, and the aging and disability networks. Highlights include:

Section 3222 describes three waivers that will allow (1) 100% of funds to be transferred between congregate and home-delivered meal programs, (2) individuals who are homebound for social distancing purposes to be eligible for home-delivered meals, regardless of state or local policies, and (3) waiver of dietary guidelines, so networks can provide available meals to recipients. (These provisions will be addressed in this week's FAQs.) 
 
Section 3715 allows direct care workers who provide services under Medicaid waivers (1915 and 1115) to accompany people with disabilities as they enter hospitals to continue to provide services that are not provided by the hospital.

Section 3803 provides an extension of funding for the Medicare Improvements for Patients & Providers Act (MIPPA). Provisions in this section will allow for continued funding to State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs), Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ARDCs) and Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) to help older Americans and people with disabilities enroll in the  Low-Income Subsidy for Medicare Part D (which helps pay for the Part D premium) and the  Medicare Savings Programs (which helps pay for Medicare Part B).

Section 3811 extends funding for the Money Follows the Person demonstration program through November 30, 2020. 
In addition, the CARES Act provides for expanded telehealth options.

A Renewed Commitment to our Nation's Older Adults
 
March 25, 2020
Lance Robertson, ACL Administrator and Assistant Secretary for Aging

Our country affirmed the rights, dignity, independence, and well-being of older adults when President Trump signed  HR4334, the Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020 into law, the recent reauthorization of the Older Americans Act.

The law reauthorizes critical Older Americans Act (OAA) programs through 2024. Since 1965, the OAA has provided critical services that have enabled millions of older Americans to stay in their own homes and communities.  Services supported by the OAA include congregate and home-delivered meals, case management, specialized transportation services, employment and volunteer programs, adult day care, senior centers and activities, personal care, homemaker and chore services, legal support, health promotion, and disease prevention. OAA programs also support family caregivers, who are the backbone of our nation's long-term care system.

These services are provided by a national aging services network, which today includes 56 state and territorial units on aging (SUAs), 618 area agencies on aging (AAA) 274 Tribal and Native Hawaiian organizations, more than 20,000 direct-service providers, and hundreds of thousands of volunteers.  There are 13 Area Agencies on Aging in Alabama, with the South Alabama Regional Planning Commission's AAA serving Mobile, Baldwin and Escambia counties.

This network represents a nationwide infrastructure that reaches every community in this country. Over the past few weeks, the novel coronavirus has tested this network like never before. ACL Administrator Armstrong said he is proud to say that across the country, we have dedicated aging services professionals step up under difficult circumstances to get public health information out and ensure the continuation of critical services, even when it has required some creative problem solving.

HHS and the Administration for Community Living stand with the aging network in this difficult time and we are doing everything we can support the important work of the network, including by easing some regulations and providing added flexibility to allow programs to continue their work. In fact, earlier this week, ACL awarded grants totaling $250 million in emergency funding authorized by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to augment the work the network is doing to ensure older adults have access to the nutritious meals they need to stay healthy.

For more than 50 years, the Older Americans Act has helped people live the lives they want, with the people they choose, throughout their lives. Because of the Older Americans Act, communities across the nation benefit from the wealth of knowledge that comes only with life experience. Administrator Armstrong stated he is honored to have the opportunity to lead the agency responsible for implementing the majority of this important legislation, and is so grateful for its reauthorization.

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