Johnson County, Iowa City to work together to allocate American Rescue Plan Act funds

Direct payments to eligible adults, eviction prevention, affordable housing, and housing repair and relocation are the first possible projects Johnson County and Iowa City may collaborate on.


Jake Wicks

The Iowa City City Council meets at the Senior Center in Iowa City on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. City Manager Geoff Fruin looks to community members addressing the council about Covid-19 relief funds for front line workers.

Emily Delgado, News Reporter

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors and Iowa City City Council will use American Rescue Plan Act Funds to improve affordable housing and allocate direct payments to eligible adults.

“Both the City Council and the Johnson County Board of Supervisors have identified this as a priority use of ARPA funds,” City Manager Geoff Fruin said at the City Council meeting on Tuesday.

 “It’s our understanding that the Board of Supervisors will begin some intense discussions on this program tomorrow at your work session,” Fruin said. 

The program will be housed under the county’s General Assistance program. Concerns were raised surrounding how would the entities make sure that adults were residents of the county and city, and making sure that every resident has access to the application no matter their language barrier. 

“I think that an additional benefit that we would get from working together in that way is that our General Assistance people are very knowledgeable about other programs that are out there as well. And so part of their work is certainly distributing direct payment,” Supervisor Rod Sullivan said. 

Two of the most important requirements that the county is looking for is the residence and identity of the individual. Both the county and the city haven’t defined who are eligible adults. 

Supervisor Lisa Green-Douglas said no matter what, both entities should approach this with caution but sympathy at the same time. 

“We have to trust that they truly are residents of Johnson County,” City Councilor Pauline Taylor said. 

Johnson County Board of Supervisors will continue to discuss direct payments to eligible adults at their Nov. 17 meeting. 

Affordable housing has been at the forefront of the city’s agenda for some time, Fruin said, and  presented the idea of using a county-owned building on 821 S. Clinton St. to be a potential place for childcare and affordable housing. 

“Ideas and visions for that space might help us identify exactly how best to pursue that. For childcare and certainly affordable housing,” Fruin said. 

Both the council and board of supervisors favored the idea of turning the first floor of the 821 S. Clinton building into a childcare center and then the upper levels into mixed income apartments. 

“I think it’d be a huge mistake not to be working with Iowa City on this,” Supervisor Rod Sullivan said. 

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