Evanston awarded more than $4 million in grants to help fight COVID-19

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Daily file photo by Colin Boyle

The Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center. City Council is slated to vote on the creation of a proposed aid fund for undocumented residents.

Wesley Blaine, Reporter

The city of Evanston received more than $4 million in grants from the local, state and federal level to support residents that have been impacted by COVID-19.

This money is being used to provide housing, food, income and childcare for Evanston residents, according to a news release. It’s also being used to hire more public health staff, pay overtime to existing staff and support first responders.

Ike Ogbo, director of Evanston’s Health and Human Services Department, is responsible for distributing $926,089 of this grant money. Ogbo said this money would be used to hire more staff that focus on coronavirus-related work, including contact tracing and case interviews. He said this will allow current staff to return to projects they were doing before COVID-19.

Sarah Flax, the city’s housing and grants manager, is helping to distribute over one million dollars from the Community Development Block Grant. Flax said this money must be used to support low and middle-income individuals. A portion of the funds will be given to Evanston micro-enterprises: businesses with five or fewer employees, including the owners, where the owner’s income does not exceed 80 percent of the area median income.

“We know that we have a lot of businesses that are subsistence businesses. They are not throwing off a lot of profitability. And those are businesses that we really need to help,” Flax said.

Flax is also distributing the Emergency Solutions Grant, which totals $966,314. Some of this money is being used to move families out of hotels and into permanent housing. Flax said this option gives these families a safer and more permanent place to shelter in place during the pandemic.

First responders, including the Evanston Fire Department, received $51,631 from this grant money.

Kimberly Kull, the division chief of emergency management logistics for the EFD, said this money is being used to cover EMS transports related to COVID-19. Kull said the transports are used when community members suspect that they were exposed to COVID-19 and want the EFD to take them to the hospital for testing.

“We are so fortunate to have a talented fire department, especially as it relates to our COVID(-19) response,” Kull added, pointing to the fact that EFD has no known members with COVID-19. “I’m also incredibly grateful for the reception that (we’ve) received from the Evanston community.”

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