Community services

CS Community Services assesses how to spend latest round of COVID relief funds

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) – College Station’s Community Services Department is figuring out what to do with the city’s latest round of COVID relief funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

The city is expected to receive $1.7 million from the Department of Housing and Urban Development through ARPA. The federal government says it is to be used to help the recipient’s homeless population, those at risk of becoming homeless, or those fleeing domestic violence, sexual assault, or human trafficking.

City officials say potential options include building or renovating affordable rental housing, direct housing assistance programs, homelessness prevention support services and housing advice, and the purchase or development of non-collective shelters.

“It’s a great opportunity, and we’re glad this money is coming in,” said David Brower, community development analyst. “It’s only going to go so far, so we’ll probably have to pick one thing in order to maximize impact. We’re ultimately going to go where the data says we should go, and when we gather insights, where stakeholders say that these are the greatest needs.

Brower says the department is currently gathering information from these stakeholders, such as nonprofit organizations and government entities that work directly with these populations. This process also includes setting up a number of focus groups throughout the month of January. Once this is all over, Brower says the department will come up with a plan.

The city will hold a public hearing Feb. 22 at 6 p.m. at City Hall so residents can provide input on how they think the funding should be used.

“The homeless and those at risk of homelessness are some of our most vulnerable populations, so being able to help these people in any additional ways we can is always a really good thing,” Brower said. . “We have a lot of nonprofits and different groups that are already working with people experiencing homelessness, but there are gaps. Hopefully, this funding can fill one of those gaps to help even more of this vulnerable population that really needs help.

Previous rounds of COVID relief funding came from the CARES Act. Brower says they’ve used that money for things like small business grants and rental assistance programs provided by nonprofit partners.

“We partnered with the food bank to create the GoTEM program. It’s called “Going the Extra Mile,” Brower said. “It’s about delivering food right to the doorstep of food insecure people. People who have difficulty accessing a food pantry, either due to physical disability or lack of transportation. This program delivers food every week. We helped buy a van and then fund the initial start up of this program which is still being signed up and running right now. »

Copyright 2022 KBTX. All rights reserved.