Urbana Health & Wellness Center

A rendering of the basketball courts and indoor walking track at Urbana’s future Health & Wellness Center.

URBANA — The city has received applications for about four times the amount of federal coronavirus relief money it has to give away.

Soon to come will be pitches from the applicants and, eventually, some tough decisions for the city council.

Urbana received $12.9 million from the American Rescue Plan Act and has about $10 million left to award to community projects.

At the close of the application deadline Nov. 16, there were 48 applicants — two of which were already eliminated as ineligible under guidelines for use of the money, said William Kolschowsky, the city’s senior management analyst and assistant to the city administrator.

That leaves five proposals totaling about $3.8 million from city departments and 41 projects totaling about $35 million for proposals from community organizations, he said.

Each of the applicants have been asked to submit a one-page summary of their projects, and each will get a chance to make a six-minute pitch to the city council, with an additional six minutes allotted for answering questions asked by the council and mayor, Kolschowsky said.

The five city project proposals will be presented Dec. 12, and the remaining 41 will be divided among sessions set for Dec. 13, 14 and 15.

Each of the applications has been undergoing a review process, and applicants have been asked to address three key questions: What the lasting impact of the project will be when the funding runs out; why their projects would be the best use of the city’s share; and why they’re confident they can use the funds within federal guidelines and achieve demonstrable results in the required timeline.

Mayor Diane Marlin said the city received more applications than expected for “a wide variety” of projects.

The council has already set goals for spending the money, so the projects will have to fall within those goals, she said.

The goals include improving accessibility of public recreation space and youth programming, increasing support for community-violence interventions, reducing housing costs for those in need, increasing availability and affordability of food and mental-health services, increasing job-training and -placement opportunities, providing relief and support to local businesses, and investing in community health, safety and future resilience infrastructure.

Most of the $2.9 million the city has already used from its federal funds went to give city employees one-time bonuses of about $2,000 each to recognize the extraordinary amount of work done earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic and to make up for lost revenue due to a pandemic-related population decline in the 2020 Census, Marlin said.

Lost population leads to lost population-based revenue for the city, and the census was taken at time when the University of Illinois temporarily halted in-person instruction and asked those students who were able to leave town to return home.

Marlin said the city has a few hundred thousand dollars of the $2.9 million left to apply to the cost of a census challenge, should city officials decide to go that route.

Kolschowsky said there isn’t a projected date for making a decision on which applicants will receive the money, but awards aren’t likely to occur until January at the earliest.

Under the rules for use of the federal funds, the money must be allocated by Dec. 31, 2024, and spent by Dec. 31, 2026, Kolschowsky said.

Following is the schedule for projects to be presented. Note: Kolschowski said he doesn’t anticipate any changes, but the schedule won’t be final until the meeting agendas are published sometime next week:

Dec. 12: City projects

  • Green stormwater infrastructure grant program.
  • Sanitary sewer lateral lining pilot program.
  • Student, family, community engagement sponsorship.
  • Roof repair and replacement program.
  • Housing navigation, case management and affordable housing units.

Dec. 13

  • Carle Foundation Hospital: Hope Village, a tiny-homes community with intensive case management for chronically homeless and medically fragile homeless individuals.
  • City of Champaign Township: Strides Low-barrier shelter, 70 E. Washington St., C.
  • C-U at Home, Pathways to Progress (two applications, one consolidated presentation): Construction of mid-barrier program site.
  • Cunningham Township Supervisor’s Office: Bridge to Home: Filling gaps in local homeless and housing services.
  • Habitat for Humanity of Champaign County: Counseling for first-time homeowners.
  • Housing Authority of Champaign County: Steer Place renovation project.
  • Immigrant Services of Champaign-Urbana: Affordable housing for poor immigrants.
  • Northpointe Development II Corporation: Prairie Ridge Apartments.
  • Housing Authority of Champaign County: Affordable housing — Single Room Occupancy project.
  • Union Development Holdings LLC, an affiliate of The Annex Group: Union at Bradley.
  • University YMCA (New American Welcome Center): COVID-19 recovery for immigrant communities.
  • Housing Authority of Champaign County YouthBuild: YouthBuild Bridging the Gap.
  • KidAlytics: Data science.
  • Salt and Light: Workplace readiness program.

Dec. 14

  • Champaign County Environmental Stewards: Establish a household-hazardous-waste collection facility.
  • Champaign County Economic Development Corp.: Solving the talent-attraction equation in Champaign County.
  • Eastern Illinois Foodbank: Electric cargo vans and charging station.
  • Champaign County Health Care Consumers: Special populations outreach and enrollment for health, food, and housing security.
  • Common Ground Food Co-op: Common Ground Food For All food accessibility program.
  • Red Herring Vegetarian Restaurant: Handmade Harvest, healthy meals for families facing food insecurity.
  • Sola Gratia Farm: Community farm expansion for enhanced sustainable fresh food production, engagement and consumption.
  • Champaign County Economic Development Corp.: COVID-19 recovery, Urbana Small Business Microloan Fund.
  • The HOYCE Center: The Blessing Bank.
  • The Well Experience: Well Family Care program.
  • Trauma Survivors Heal 2.
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences Clinic: Reducing gun violence through community trauma informed care.
  • Champaign County Crime Stoppers.

Dec. 15

  • FirstFollowers: Urbana Community Peace Hub.
  • The Anti-Violence Collective Inc.: FRESH Start program.
  • Angel’s Youth Center program.
  • Bradley Learning Center: Bradley expansion.
  • Creative Children’s Center.
  • Urbana school district alternative education.
  • Greater Champaign County AMBUCS: AMBUCS Park wellness upgrades.
  • Illinois Futbol Club: Youth soccer program.
  • Soccer Planet expansion.
  • Urbana Free Library: Community Connections youth programming specialist.
  • Urbana Neighborhood Connections Center: Operation UNCC Boost.
  • Urbana Park District: Health & Wellness Center.
  • Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center: ACCESS IMC.

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