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Linn County, Cedar Rapids open last round of allocating federal pandemic relief
Applicants have until noon July 15 to apply for aid
CEDAR RAPIDS — Linn County and the city of Cedar Rapids opened the door Thursday to divvying up a total of $36 million in federal funds, the final round in their allocations from the American Rescue Plan Act passed by Congress to provide pandemic relief.
Under this round, the county has $22 million to spend and Cedar Rapids has about $14 million to spend, with $3 million of that designated for a joint city-county process.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly impacted everyone in our community in very different ways and that impact continues today … especially for people of color, the elderly and low- income households,” Cedar Rapids Mayor Tiffany O’Donnell said during a news conference Thursday.
Projects seeking a share of the money may apply at a joint website, at CR-LinnARPA.org, or by following links through both the county and city websites. Applications are due by noon July 15.
The city and county awarded funding in the first round of funding toward social services, public health, economic recovery and infrastructure projects. In total for both rounds of funding, the county has about $44 million to spend and the city has $28 million. Federal rules allowed governments to retain some of the aid for their own operations to cover their pandemic losses.
Linn County Supervisor Ben Rogers said that all applications from the county’s round one that didn’t receive funding will automatically be considered in this second round.
“Linn County received 119 applications during round one,” he said. “Our goal is still that these funds are distributed all across our community and Linn County will evaluate all competitive projects through this lens.”
In the first round, the supervisors approved funding of $11 million for 39 applicants — including programs to increase affordable housing, reduce gun violence, address mental health needs and support food distribution.
The county received over $75 million in requests in the first round, far more money than it had available. So tens of millions of dollars worth of projects are still being considered as new applicants also have the chance to apply.
Cedar Rapids separately also has been allocating some of its federal funding. In the first round of allocations, Cedar Rapids earmarked $5.1 million for westside flood control, $1 million for the PATCH home-repair program, up to $750,000 for nonprofits that lost hotel-motel tax allocations during the pandemic and $585,000 for workforce initiatives, including tuition grants with Kirkwood Community College.
One of the largest asks still to be funded is a total of about $10 million from the Cedar Rapids Public Library for a new library and opportunity center on the city’s west side. The project had asked for $6 million from the county and hopes to receive $4 million from Cedar Rapids, pending approval by the City Council. The federal funds would be in addition to a bequest to the library.
The opportunity center, operating now at the leased Ladd Library, represents a collaboration between the library, Kirkwood Community College and United Way of East Central Iowa to offer social services, job training, health care navigation and other supports.
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