ST. LOUIS — The City of St. Louis is wrapping up a controversial cash assistance program with money from pandemic funds. While thousands benefited from the program, others are questioning how applicants were selected.

The city gave $500 to residents with funds from the American Rescue Fund Act. It’s already paid out about $4 million of the $5 million allotted for the program by Mayor Tishaura Jones.

City Treasurer Adam Layne told FOX 2’s Elliot Davis that 12,000 applied for the money, but 9,300 of them were approved. The Treasurer’s Office is overseeing the program that’s being administered by the United Way.

When asked how applicants were chosen, Layne responded: “There was no first come first serve, no one who has a higher need than someone else. It was just we were taking in applications. We actually had no idea about the volume of applications that we would get.”

“If you had a stack of applications, we went to the first one and said, ‘Okay this is the application. If all the requirements are met, you are approved for it.’ But applications came in at all different times,” he continued.

Alderman Joe Vaccaro said it’s a lot like picking winners and losers because not everyone who wanted the money got it. He just wasn’t sure who did the picking and who got left out.

“Three thousand didn’t get it, yes,” said Layne. “It’s math. So 300,000 people in the city, like I said. You’re able to serve 9,300. So there again, there will be people who go without.”

One woman who didn’t get chosen for the $500 reached out to Davis, who informed Layne. After reviewing her application, she was later given the money.