DECATUR — The city’s COVID-19 rent relief program would get a $300,000 boost under a proposal to be considered by the city council on Monday.
The ordinance would amend the city’s contract with Decatur-based social service agency Dove Inc., which has administered the relief program on the city’s behalf since August 2021, from $450,000 to $750,000.
The agreement would utilize funds the city received from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan signed by President Joe Biden in March 2021.
So far, 160 Decatur families have received help with rent, mortgage and utility payments to the tune of $414,793, or about $2,592 per family, through the program.
About 300 applications have been denied, with most due to the lack of required paperwork, inability to prove hardship or lack of follow-up.
“We are continuing to see a need,” said Dove executive director Tammy Wilcox in a memo to city council. “Particularly for the working family that has to stay at home with their children because of COVID exposure or due to having COVID. We see families who live paycheck to paycheck, so losing even a week’s income puts them behind.”
Assistant city manager Jon Kindseth said Dove “had already received applications that had exceeded the amount of resources that they had to fund and they came to us probably two weeks ago” asking for more resources.
The relatively fast pace funds are going out the door is a change from earlier in 2021, when ”very difficult compliance requirements” attached to the funds resulted in few dollars getting into the hands of those who need it most.
However, the council voted earlier this year to shift the funding source from Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant funds to monies received under the ARP, which allows for greater flexibility.
The amount dedicated towards the program is just a small fraction of the nearly $17 million the city received in COVID-19 stimulus funds in 2021. Much of the rest is earmarked for infrastructure projects and neighborhood revitalization initiatives. The city will receive additional $17 million in 2022.
The application for rental assistance can be downloaded at https://doveinc.org/information/city-decatur-cdbg-cv-funding.
Also Monday, the council will likely deem seven properties, including the former Walrus Manufacturing Co. warehouse, 650 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, “dangerous and unsafe,” the first step towards their likely demolitions.
Portions of the four-story warehouse were in rubble in late October when an exterior wall started to collapse. This led to a lengthy closure of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive as that portion was demolished.
Kindseth said that the entire building likely “needs to be demolished” and is “slightly beyond salvaging at this point.”
“The structural failure that happened on the west side of the building is likely going to happen to the rest of the building sometime in the future,” Kindseth said.
“I think the owner and the structural engineer were already aware of it, but this is our way to make sure that it doesn’t get stalled out anywhere else in the process,” he said.
Structures that end up on the “unsafe” list typically get demolished within six months, though it often depends on funding levels.
The demolition could cost upwards of $1 million, Kindseth said. That responsibility will likely lay with the property owner.
In 2020, the building was listed by the History of the Heartland as one of the “Top Eight Most Endangered Non-residential Structures List.”
The structure was built in 1904. Robert Faries began the Walrus Manufacturing Company, building and installing equipment for soda fountains used in drug stores throughout the country.
By the 1950s, the industry had changed, leading the Walrus Manufacturing Company to change products, such as making coffins. After Walrus Manufacturing closed, the building was filled by Cash Acme, the successor to A.W. Cash Valve.
Other properties added to the demolition list include 2461 E. Eldorado, 1196 W. Green, 426 W. Olive, 884 W. Packard, 1442 N. Union and 555 W. William.
Also Monday, the council will consider an ordinance that would increase in the annual per machine fee paid by video gaming terminal operators from $500 to $750.
The cost would be split between terminal operators and establishments.
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December 31, 2021 at 04:31PM