Cedar Rapids allocating $3 million in ARPA funds to affordable housing, social service pool

Linn County to contribute $11 million as well; joint application process to determine funding decisions

The Cedar Rapids City Council on Tuesday approved allocating $3 million of the city’s American Rescue Plan Act funding to be allocated, via a joint application process with Linn County, to affordable housing and social service projects.

A total of $14 million in ARPA funds, including $11 million allocated by Linn County, will be available via online application at cr-linnarpa.org., starting Oct. 27 and continuing through noon Jan. 7. The ARPA funds are designed to help agencies disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cedar Rapids Mayor Brad Hart said at a news conference Oct. 25 that city and county staff will review the proposals submitted and determine which government body should review each proposal, based on service area. Cedar Rapids and Linn County are expected to collaborate on projects that are within the city limits.

Groups eligible to apply for the funding include nonprofits, businesses, cities, schools and county departments.

Cedar Rapids’ $3 million contribution to the joint fund is a portion of the city’s initial $14 million ARPA allocation. Overall, city officials are allocating 40 percent of its ARPA funds to affordable housing and social services, including $1 million allocated so far to the PATCH (Providing Assistance to Community Homeowners) program. The city is also setting aside $1.5 million to purchase and renovate the former Colonial Centre building at 1500 Second Ave. SE for up to 22 affordable housing units. The Cedar Rapids Planning Commission, however, voted in July to recommend denial of a rezoning request for that project.

The council had also previously decided to contribute $5.1 million, or 36%, of its initial ARPA allocation to a flood control system for the west side of the Cedar River, with another 10% allocated for an upcoming workforce training program and 14% to cover the city’s pandemic-related financial losses.

Cedar Rapids Community Development Director Jennifer Pratt told the council Tuesday that applications for the joint funding will be considered based on both current and future plans.

“We are always looking for an organization that demonstrates experience and financial stability,” she said. “Because this is a one-time funding source, we will be looking to make sure that funding is secured for the ongoing operations of any project that’s submitted. We also are looking for those that promote green principles as well as those that can be initiated without delay.”

Funding recommendations are expected to be submitted to the council by the end of February 2022, Ms. Pratt said.