City Council Authorizes Additional Federal Funding to Address Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Funds will support rental assistance, vaccine distribution and provide additional aid for COVID-19 response efforts
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CHICAGO - City Council today passed a substitute ordinance amending the 2021 Annual Appropriation for Fund 925 grants for $377 million that includes additional federal funding for the City’s ongoing COVID-19 response efforts. The amended ordinance includes more than $179 million in new federal grants awarded to the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) to support the City’s ongoing COVID19 public health response as well as $79.8 million in additional funding awarded to the Department of Housing (DOH) for rental assistance. These new resources will be used to further bolster the City’s pandemic response by addressing the urgent needs of residents and businesses.
“New federal pandemic funding for Chicago’s residents comes at a time when the economic toll created by COVID-19 continues to bear down on our City, creating health disparities and housing insecurities for our most vulnerable communities,” said Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “These much-needed resources will allow us to continue to make progress with the vaccine rollout and reinforce our efforts to make a strong recovery.”
The additional federal funding is a result of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriation Act which was signed into law by Congress in December 2020. The pandemic relief supplemental package provided $900 billion to combat the impacts of COVID-19, and Chicago has received $259.2 million in grant funding to date:
• $155,061,000 – Building Epidemiology and Health IT Capacity Grant (CDPH)
• $79,856,000 – Emergency Rental Assistance Program (DOH)
• $24,343,000 – Vaccine Preventable Disease Grant (CDPH)
The funds directed to CDPH will be used for a number of initiatives, including to help the department plan for and implement COVID-19 vaccination services throughout Chicago. Other uses of the funds will include: establishing and/or enhancing the department’s ability to aggressively identify cases, conduct contact tracing and follow up, and implement recommended containment measures; improving morbidity and mortality surveillance; enhancing laboratory testing and reporting capacity; monitoring and mitigating COVID-19 introductions from connected jurisdictions (i.e., neighboring cities, states; including air travel); working with healthcare systems to manage and monitor system capacity; and creating infection prevention and control training expertise in the public health workforce.
“We’re making good progress in our effort to contain COVID-19 and protect our communities but we have a long way to go,” said CDPH Commissioner Allison Arwady, M.D. “The virus is still very much here and we have a lot of work to do, so we’ll put these additional funds to good use supporting that work.”
The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriation Act will fund a third Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) offered by DOH, with a requirement that 65% of the funds be distributed by September 30, 2021 or be recaptured by the US Treasury. The Fund 925 provides DOH authorization to issue an emergency Request for Proposals (RFP) for call center staffing, case management and other services relating to the processing of ERAP applications.
“As we enter into this second year of the Coronavirus pandemic, the need for financial assistance for residents and housing providers continues to grow and threaten an eviction crisis,” said DOH Commissioner Marisa Novara. “The Fund 925 will allow for DOH to quickly bring online the staff and infrastructure needed to get money to Chicagoans and keep residents safely housed.”
During the first two rounds of emergency rental assistance, DOH distributed over $34 million to nearly 10,000 households, along with the Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS). In addition to direct financial relief, DOH also used federal Coronavirus Relief Funds to provide free legal assistance to renters experiencing lockouts or evictions.
In addition to the $259.2 million in new grant funds, the City also received approval to carry over into 2021 $68 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds as well as an increase of $50 million for the city’s Public Assistance Grant program.