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Urbana nears finish line of awarding millions of federal funds for pandemic relief to community organizations

The Urbana City Council holds a meeting in 2021.

URBANA – The Urbana City Council is expected to officially award almost $10 million in federal pandemic relief money on Feb. 27. 

Mayor Diane Wolfe Marlin said the proposed plan includes investing in improvements to community health, access to food and recreation. 

“These funds were distributed to cities to help cities themselves recover from COVID-19, but also for cities to decide how they can best help their community recover from the effects of the pandemic,” Marlin said. 

Although many of the projects aren’t explicitly aimed at addressing violence, Marlin said they all will help address the root causes. 

“Every single thing we are funding is an anti violence program because it helps reduce stress in the home and stress among people and conflict,” she said. And that’s where violence grows.” 

“I view this as an investment in our community’s health and healing,” Marlin said. 

Recipients include the Urbana Park District to create a new health and wellness center, the Housing Authority of Champaign for more affordable housing, and  Sola Gratia for an expansion of their community farm. 

First Followers, a local organization that helps formerly incarcerated people re-enter the Champaign-Urbana community, may receive funding. Founder Marlon Mitchell said the funds will be used to help open a drop-in center in Urbana, target more female clients and expand their current work. 

“We want to just make sure that we’re providing a service that we have been providing, but we wanted a bigger reach inside of Urbana,” Mitchell said. 

The New American Welcome Center at the University YMCA also planned to receive funding to provide financial assistance to immigrants who were disproportionately affected by the pandemic. 

“They are below the poverty line, struggle with unemployment, have limited English proficiency, and reside in mobile homes and/or in crowded conditions and rental units,” Yen wrote. 

The city has until 2024 to distribute the funds and the organizations have until 2026 to spend the money. 

Farrah Anderson is a journalist and student at the University of Illinois. Follow her on Twitter @farrahsoa.

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Farrah Anderson

Farrah Anderson is a 2024 graduate of the University of Illinois. At Illinois Public Media, Anderson works as a general assignment reporter focusing on police and investigative stories.

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