McHenry County awards $2.7M in American Rescue Plan funding to five nonprofit agencies
In the third round of funding, McHenry County Board recently approved resolutions to allocate more than $2.7 million of the American Rescue Plan Act grant monies to five nonprofit agencies. The funding will assist senior citizens, create affordable housing and provide food to those in need in efforts to mitigate the adverse effects of the COVID-19 crisis.
The pandemic "put a lot of hurt on people and families in the forms of housing and food insecurity," County Board Chairman Mike Buehler (R-Crystal Lake) said in a statement. He also noted that the approved projects will "strengthen our social safety net."
At the meeting, Richard Koenig, executive director of the Skokie-based Housing Opportunity Development Corporation, led a presentation and discussion about the group's project -- Taylor Place Apartments. The HODC had requested $800,000 toward the proposed 54-unit affordable housing complex at West Crystal Lake Road and North Mill Street in McHenry.
"This is a good project for the City of McHenry," said Pam Althoff (R-McHenry), a current board member and a former McHenry mayor and Illinois state senator.
Total project cost: $20 million. The high cost -- a concern of some board members -- is partially due to escalating construction costs stemming from the pandemic, Koenig said.
Koenig compared financing the project to a "lasagna," with many financing layers needed before the project will be able to move forward. ARPA funding -- the first "lasagna" layer -- will make it easier for HODC to get commitments from other sources, such as the federal Low-Income Taxing House Credit program.
The resolution for the HODC housing project passed 18 to 4.
The resolutions for other ARPA funding requests passed via consent agenda without discussion by a vote of 21 with one abstention.
Agencies receiving awards follow (with descriptions of the projects from interviews, grant applications, the board agenda packet and email statements):
• Northern Illinois Food Bank: $825,000 for a five-year grant to purchase nutritious foods not typically donated. The food bank will then distribute the food at no cost to McHenry County food pantries and soup kitchens to serve residents facing food insecurity. The food bank also will partner with United Way of McHenry County to provide home deliveries in 11 communities via DoorDash. "We are privileged to receive this grant … (it) is critical for reaching underserved individuals, especially those seeking specific foods for their special diets and preferences," said chief philanthropy officer Maeven Sipes in a statement.
• McHenry County Housing Authority: $467,500 for partial funding to purchase a new office building. MCHA, a nonprofit government agency, provides financial assistance to thousands of McHenry County residents each year. Its programs fight homelessness and enable residents to access affordable housing and utility assistance. But cramped quarters have thwarted the agency's much-needed expansion of programs, according to documents in the county board's agenda package. MCHA has estimated the cost for a new building at $1,200,000, identifying suitable properties in Crystal Lake and Woodstock. New office furnishings may cost up to $20,000. Other funding will come from reserves and the sale of the current property.
• Home of the Sparrow: $414,000 to acquire a two- to three-unit property to expand its current supportive housing program. Through the program, individuals and families facing housing insecurity are provided with an affordable, safe place to live. They also receive case management, employment and child-care assistance, and financial and life skills training. Clients in the program typically stay an average of 12 to 24 months before exiting to stable housing. "Clients in supportive housing pay a nominal 'service fee,' when able, in lieu of rent while they build income and financial reserves … and networks of care to sustain permanent housing and self-sufficiency long-term," said Executive Director Matthew Kostecki in a statement.
• Harvard Community Senior Center: $234,040.80 for a three-year grant to continue a technology-based program for seniors. McHenry County Sr. TechConnect benefits isolated older residents by digitally connecting them to their families, friends, medical providers, churches, peers, health and wellness programs and other supports. "With the grant funding, we will distribute 200 tablets to seniors throughout the county," said Executive Director Lynda Rohe. "We have classes that offer one-on-one training to show them about email, Zoom, YouTube and games -- everybody loves games. The whole program was borne out of COVID and families not being able to see each other."
To date, McHenry County has awarded more than $8.5 million of the nearly $29.8 million in ARPA funding intended for direct investment in infrastructure projects, workforce development, jobs programs, nonprofit agencies, special districts and local governments.
McHenry County College, Community High School District 155, Child Advocacy Center of McHenry County, Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Center and the Manufacturing Pathways Consortium were awarded grants in the first and second funding rounds.
Applications are still being accepted, and eligible entities are encouraged to apply.
• This nonprofit highlight was presented by Not-for-Profit Resources, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping build awareness of local nonprofit organizations' needs and providing resources to help them grow stronger. To learn more, visit www.nfpresources.org.