Evanston’s federal COVID-19 recovery funds now down to $10 million 

Evanston’s bundle of federal COVID-19 recovery funds is running down, with roughly $10 million left from the original total of approximately $43.1 million.

The YMCA was awarded $3 million in ARPA funds to revamp the men’s residence,1000 Grove St., the city’s lone single room occupancy (SRO) facility, which houses 172 residents.. Credit: Evan Girard

City officials provided an update on the funds at the Monday, Sept. 12, City Council meeting, where Council members approved two more American Recovery Plan Act supported allocations:

  • $2 million to replace the privately-owned portion of lead water-service lines, and
  • $500,000 for a Welcoming Center program for immigrant families and other new residents.

Pending approval, that would put the unaccounted balance of ARPA funds at $9.94 million, reported Sarah Flax, the city’s Interim Director of Community Development, in a presentation at the meeting.

In March 2021, Evanston officials learned the city would receive about $43.1 million in the federal funds that were earmarked to help local governments respond to the pandemic and lay a foundation for an equitable recovery.

Under federal guidelines, all funds received are to be expended or encumbered by Dec. 31, 2024.

Northlight Theatre received $2 million in ARPA funds to help build a theater complex on Church Street. (Northlight rendering)

Flax told Council members that some recent changes in the federal categories should give the city more flexibility in affordable-housing initiatives and the “replacement revenue” category.

Under these changes, officials will be able to use that category to cover the cost of salary increases that are recommended in a new Classification and Compensation study undertaken for the city, Flax said.

In discussion at the meeting, Council member Bobby Burns (5th Ward) asked Flax whether there are any other projects that staff is considering for the $9 million, “or is this just completely unencumbered?”

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