Iowa City and Johnson County to work together to ensure excluded workers get COVID-19 relief

The Iowa City City Council proposes to directly pay for 159 Iowa City applicants to the Johnson County Direct Assistance Program.

The+Iowa+City+Council+is+seen+during+an+Iowa+City+Council+meeting+at+Iowa+City+Hall+on+Tuesday%2C+June+21%2C+2022

Daniel McGregor-Huyer

The Iowa City Council is seen during an Iowa City Council meeting at Iowa City Hall on Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Emily Delgado, News Reporter


After Johnson County Direct Assistance Program applicants were notified of their selection status on July 12, 319 eligible Johnson County residents outside Iowa City were left out of receiving their checks. Iowa City City Council wants to work alongside the county to ensure the 319 eligible adults get paid.

All eligible Iowa City applicants to the Johnson County Direct Assistance Program received funding from the program. The Johnson County Direct Assistance Program was funded through the county’s American Rescue Plan Act funds with the Iowa City’s $1.5 million contribution and other cities in the county’s American Rescue Plan Act Fund.

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors have not received correspondence yet from Iowa City detailing the city’s idea, but Supervisor Jon Green said he is optimistic the Board of Supervisors and City Council will be able to come up with a resolution.

Green said he thinks the reason there are 319 eligible applicants who did not get paid is that the county did not have a clear image on how many people would be applying to the program.

“We didn’t know what the application pool was going to look like. The way that the agreement between Johnson County and Iowa City was negotiated was that Johnson County had to exhaust its $2 million before we could access Iowa City’s funds,” Green said.

In order to come up with a solution, Green says the county and the city need to re-adjust their agreement to allow the city to extend their funds first and the county’s funds to allow for the 319 eligible applicants to get their money. This is a solution Green says will be helpful for all but says if the city’s correspondence gets to the county in time before the next board of supervisors meeting, the board can discuss other options.

“I know that those 319 folks are exhausted and I’d like to get them out of limbo and I’d like to get them made whole as soon as possible,” Green said.

In the official resolution allowing the transfer of Iowa City’s $1.5 million to the Johnson County Direct Assistance Program, it allows, in the case of excess funds, for the city and the county to come up with a way to use the rest of the funds.

The goal of the Johnson County Direct Assistance Program was to help Johnson County residents who were excluded from previous COVID-19 relief payments.

The Iowa City City Council directed city staff to start communication with the county to come up with a way to get money to these citizens.

The council favored offering to pay for half of 319 people inside Iowa City to allow for County funds to be freed up to ensure the 319 excluded Johnson County residents residing outside of Iowa City get paid.

Councilor Pauline Taylor said she believes Iowa City should not be left with all the responsibility to make sure the 319 excluded Johnson County residents get a payment.

Taylor proposes the city and the county and other entities such as neighboring cities come to terms on how to help the 319 excluded Johnson County residents.

The exact cost of Iowa City’s participation in the county’s program is not yet finalized, Iowa City City Manager Geoff Fruin wrote in a memo to the Iowa City City Council.

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