By Karli Barnett

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Dr. Ben Carson, paid a visit to Miami City Hall.

Friday, he spoke about money that was allocated to the City of Miami to help with the COVID-19 economic fallout.

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With masks and social distancing enforced, Secretary Carson spoke to the small gathering.

“Crisis builds character, and, certainly, this coronavirus crisis has shown the great, indomitable spirit in the American people and right here in Miami,” Dr. Carson said.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez presented Dr. Carson with a key to the city.

The gesture came as they were discussing Community Development Block Grant funds from HUD, allocated to Miami specifically for COVID-19.

“We will be renewing and expanding our focus to help recovering communities improve financial and medical outcomes by leveraging the powerful potential of the CARES Act, as well as further federal initiatives,” said Secretary Carson, who is also on the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council.

In this case, HUD gave Miami $3.2 million, which the Mayor and commission used to create three programs.

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“HUD has helped us with things that the PPP [Paycheck Protection Program] has not, that unemployment has not,” said Mayor Suarez. “We are trying to do the best we can with this umbrella of funding.”

“To help people get back on their feet through a rental assistance program,” he continued, “To help small businesses through a loan forgiveness program, and help micro-enterprise businesses get a micro-enterprise grant.”

The Business Continuity Micro-Enterprise Program assists with rent and utilities for businesses with less than five employees.

The Small Business Assistance Forgivable Loan Program gives forgivable loans to qualified businesses with less than 20 employees.

The Emergency Rental and Utilities Assistance Program provides one-month rental and utility assistance to low-income residents who lost their jobs due to the pandemic.

As of Thursday, the city said they have approved 20 micro business loans, 19 small business loans, and 24 for rental assistance funding.

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For more information on assistance with rent and utilities if you live in the city of Miami, go to

Karli Barnett