Organizations can apply for $ 14 million in US bailout funds through the Cedar Rapids and Linn partnership

Jennifer Pratt, Director of Community Development for the Town of Cedar Rapids, speaks at a press conference in July. Pratt said on Monday the city was spending millions of its US bailout funds on affordable housing and social services. (Gazette file photo) (Rebecca F. Miller / The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS – Working together, the governments of Cedar Rapids and Linn County will soon seek proposals to spend a total of $ 14 million in federal pandemic relief assistance for human and social service needs.

On Wednesday, the two local governments will launch an online request for proposals process at for organizations to apply for a share of federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. The deadline to apply is January 7 at noon.

“We must try to meet the needs of all of our residents, especially those who are disproportionately affected by these two disasters,” Cedar Rapids Mayor Brad Hart said of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. and last year’s derecho.

Cedar Rapids city council is due to vote on Tuesday on approving $ 3 million of its overall $ 28 million share of federal aid to the funding pool.

Cedar Rapids Mayor Brad Hart (photo submitted)

Stacey Walker, Linn County Supervisor

Hart said staff in the City and County of Linn will review the submitted proposals and collaborate on projects that are in the City of Cedar Rapids. Funding recommendations are expected to be presented to the board by the end of February 2022.

“We really appreciate the continued collaboration with the county and our non-profit communities to really do everything we can to meet the needs of our community,” Hart said. “We are facing an unprecedented time with the pandemic and the derecho, and it is really only through these types of partnerships that we can take advantage of the funding available.”

Linn County Supervisor Stacey Walker said the county will spend $ 11 million of its overall share of $ 44 million towards this first-round allocation.

A total of $ 5.5 million will fund investments in water and sewerage, and the other half of this initial allocation will support public health uses and tackle the negative economic impacts of COVID-19 such as contact tracing and viral vaccinations, food aid, rent and utility assistance, and eviction prevention, Walker said.

“Ultimately these dollars belong to the people, so we need to co-create people-centered solutions to meet their needs and improve our community,” Walker said.

Applicants eligible for county funding include nonprofits, businesses, cities, schools and county departments, Walker said. Nonprofit organizations with a religious affiliation must serve the general public to be eligible.

All grant recipients must have a unique federal government entity identifier, or SAM number, at the time of grant award to receive federal funding, although this is not required to submit an application. Entities without this number can visit for more information.

With this partnership, applicants only need to apply once using the joint application. The request will be routed to the City or County of Linn, as the case may be, for review, Walker said.

As Walker mentioned, cities are eligible to apply for a federal relief fund provided by the county. The city of Cedar Rapids, for example, could apply for funds for projects such as a flood control system segment – a possibility that has surfaced in discussions about city-county collaboration.

Tensions have arisen in the past between elected bodies, one of the reasons being that the county has not contributed to funding for flood control, although the system would protect buildings in the county, including the Palace of justice and prison.

“We have worked together to facilitate the application of groups within our community,” Walker told The Gazette. “And we certainly plan to collaborate with the city if there are any projects they have that would be of common interest.”

Cedar Rapids has already allocated a large portion of its federal funding.

The council committed $ 10.2 million to two west side flood control projects and up to $ 750,000 to a grant program for nonprofits that lost hotel-motel funds then that the city suspended these payments in fiscal year 2021.

In addition, the city contributed $ 1 million to the PATCH program administered by local nonprofits to fund repairs to homes damaged by derecho. This commitment, plus this $ 3 million allocation, is part of an overall $ 5.5 million the city will be spending on affordable housing and social services, community development director Jennifer Pratt told The Gazette. .

Hart said the city will also look to spend $ 1.5 million to purchase and rehabilitate the former colonial center located at 1500 Second Ave. SE in affordable housing.

In July, the city’s Planning Commission voted against the recommendation to change the zoning of the property for public use following the refusal of some residents of Wellington Heights. Some cities have opposed plans to turn the vacant building into a community resource center and emergency shelter, fearing it will bring more homeless people to the neighborhood without proper services.

However, the county is using some of its federal funds to purchase a 16,200 square foot building at 1017 12th Ave. SW at Alliant Energy’s Cedar Rapids as a permanent homeless overflow shelter while phasing out the Fillmore Building.

With this project underway, Pratt said the city is not looking to use part of the old colonial center as a shelter. The number of housing units is not yet decided, but Pratt said there will likely be more than 20 units created.

Pratt said the city is still seeking two relief grants that would add up to an additional $ 2.6 million in total to the project. City staff are “working diligently” to secure the building before a purchase option expires at year end.

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