Rescue plan

Iowa City Council to allocate more American Rescue Plan Act funds to city nonprofits

After allocating American Rescue Plan Act funds to three programs before May, the City Council will begin allocating funds to help Iowa City nonprofits.

Gabby Drees

Executive Director Mazahir Salih watches a presentation during an Iowa City Council meeting at City Hall in Iowa City on Tuesday, May 3, 2022.

The Iowa City Council decides to allocate additional funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, directing city staff to find ways to use the federal grant to support local nonprofits.

The city council discussed using funds for nonprofit organizations to financially assist residents negatively affected by COVID-19, including the Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa and Shelter House.

Currently, three projects are using the funds:

  • Direct payments to adults who were excluded from initial COVID-19 relief
  • Payments to Forest View Mobile Home Park residents for relocation.
  • Community mobile crisis and food bank

“I think there’s been a lot of discussion here with some consensus that we want to make sure we have an application process that’s open to the public. We want to be very transparent and communicative about this process,” Mayor Bruce Teague said during the council business session on Tuesday.

Iowa City will allocate between $500,000 and $1.5 million of its American Rescue Plan Act funds to this program. Not including funding from nonprofit organizations, the city currently has $14.7 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds.

City Manager Geoff Fruin said the city council will await reviews from staff in the urgent needs category before making its decision on how to spend the funds with nonprofits.

“I would suggest that you allow us to come back with a look at this category of urgent needs, allow the staff to give you a recommendation on a process,” Fruin said. “I would recommend the low end and the $500,000 because we’ve already passed two of those other categories,”

The Forest View Mobile Home Park Relocation Program has received $1.2 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds – nearly exceeding the program’s original budget of $1.5 million .

The city council has also begun discussions about other potential funding initiatives, including using American Rescue Plan Act funds to prevent evictions in the city.

“We are currently trying to work to create an eviction prevention proposal that would probably last two to three years,” Fruin said.

City staff estimate an eviction prevention program in 2022 would cost nearly $1 million. When the board originally planned to delegate the first half of American Rescue Plan Act funds in May 2021, an eviction prevention program would have cost between $1 million and $2 million, in order to retain American Rescue funds. Plan Act.

“We’re probably looking at the lower end of that range closer to $1 million as opposed to $2 million, but from a staff perspective and talking to some of the nonprofit housing providers, we think prevention of evictions, further eviction prevention efforts will be needed, despite state commitments,” Fruin said.

The city also seeks to use American Rescue Plan Act funds for programs that provide financial support to minority-owned businesses, affordable housing initiatives, and public infrastructure.

The city council discussed the possibility of using American Rescue Plan Act funds to support the Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa’s efforts to combat wage theft in Iowa.

The center sent a letter to city council on April 18 asking it to allocate $17,000 annually.

The council has instructed city staff to put in place an agreement to help the Center for Worker Justice, but it’s unclear whether the council will use American Rescue Plan Act funds for the program.

Teague said the board will wait for staff recommendations before making a decision on the letter from the Center for Worker Justice.

“It looks like this council wants to treat this as a separate item type, which I hear,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of nods to direct the staff to go ahead with the deal on this, okay, so that’s great.”

Fruin said council will vote on the next use of U.S. bailout funds as soon as city staff return with proposals.