How DuPage County plans to use $7 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds

 
 
Updated 7/10/2020 8:37 PM

DuPage County plans to use roughly $7 million in federal relief funds to offer rental assistance, food bank assistance and other programs to help residents who are struggling due to the coronavirus.

The county has received roughly $161 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act for pandemic-related expenses incurred between March 1 and the end of the year. This week, officials presented the DuPage community services department's plan to spend its share of the federal relief money.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I don't think there's really anything more important ... than taking care of people," county board member Julie Renehan said after hearing the plan. "This is a safety net."

The largest expenditure is $3 million for a rental assistance program to help residents stay in their homes.

Mary Keating, DuPage's director of community services, said county officials will start by reaching out to tenants and landlords who have pending eviction cases.

"If we can reach out proactively and connect with folks who may be facing eviction due to COVID," Keating said, "we can probably come in with some rental assistance ... (and) avoid that eviction."

The goal is to begin assisting clients next month with the help of nonprofit groups across the county.

To be eligible for assistance, a household must have hurt somehow by the pandemic. Qualifying households will receive money for up to three months of rent or mortgage payments, including late fees.

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Households that need longer-term assistance will be referred to case management agencies, officials said.

One program will allocate $2 million so nonprofit groups can be reimbursed for expenses they've incurred for personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies, social distance measures and IT costs.

Only nonprofits that have received some level of funding from the county over the past five years will qualify. Groups seeking reimbursement will be required to submit receipts for their expenses.

Another $1 million has been set aside to help agencies that provide residential and behavioral health services to DuPage residents. The groups will be able to seek reimbursement for increased staffing costs and expanded service due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

DuPage also is going to set aside $1 million to help local food banks.

Keating says Northern Illinois Food Bank, which supports more than 50 food pantries in the county, will receive $625,000.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We thought it appropriate to provide them with the largest allocation so that they can then pass those commodities down to the multiple food pantries," she said.

The three largest food pantries in DuPage -- Loaves and Fishes, People's Resource Center and West Suburban Community Pantry -- will each receive $125,000.

Meanwhile, other initiatives being considered include $160,000 to provide pharmacy coverage for newly uninsured residents and $90,000 to offer rental assistance to displaced low-income workers participating in career path training.

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