$70 Million in Stimulus Grants to Help Chicago
Just last week a $2.2 trillion stimulus package was pushed through Congress and signed by the President, in order to provide relief for workers and businesses during these times of economic recession. Though while that seems like almost an impossible amount of money, Chicago’s $70 million in grants just shows how small the sum can seem once it’s broken down among the thousands of towns, cities and counties in the United States.
According to Representative Lauren Underwood, the grants given to Chicago from the stimulus will go toward health services, crime prevention, public safety, and other issues. The funds are essentially to help Chicago maintain its policing and its health and public safety services. The state of Illinois currently has around 7,800 cases of Covid-19 confirmed, which puts them up there in the top ten states the most affected by the viral outbreak. Though what’s scary for Chicago is that Cook County, where Chicago’s located, actually has 5,600 of those cases. The next closest affected area is Lake County, with only 540 cases.
In total, Illinois will be receiving over $100 million total from two block grants, one of which will give the state $36 million while Chicago gets the $70 million. To date, the county and city are running extreme deficits, as they’re dealing with levels of Covid-19 that are very similar to New York and Italy. Seniors and those in poorer health are at much higher risk of the virus, and it’s much harder to keep people from gathering in cities. It’s the main reason most people live there, according to experts, so those “stay home” orders that aren’t necessarily enforced are ignored in larger metro areas so regularly that the virus is spreading to hundreds more people every single day.
Yesterday, Wednesday, April 1, the amounts were announced. Though, to date, no one has any idea on when the money will actually arrive. Just like with the $1,200 in personal stimulus money that’s supposed to help most Americans, there is no actual set date for when those funds are going to be approved. So far, people have said one thing, yet reality is showing another thing entirely.
Representative Underwood did mention, however, that the funds will go into the Community Development Block Grants, which are typically used for revitalization projects and for low-income housing. However, given that we’re in the midst of a national health crisis brought on by a global pandemic, those funds essentially become discretionary and can be used for other public works. So, in essence, the Community Development Block Grants are being turned into mere accounts to hold the money, while the actual money is spent on anything requiring immediate attention.
Chicago-Specific Grant Awards
Because government makes its bones on rolling out the red tape, it’s not as if federal stimulus money is just pouring into Chicago for the residents to do with what they want. While this will be the case for some of the money, which will go into the Community Develop Block Grants accounts, the rest of the money is specified to go to certain areas within the purview of the CDBG.
These areas include Arlington Heights, Aurora, Berwyn, Cicero, Des Plaines, Elgin, Evanston, Hoffman Estates, Joliet, and many other communities.
Most of this money is expected to go to two different areas. First, it will go to providing public health safety measures, including testing and treatments for residents. Secondly, a large portion will go to helping poorer residents get their essentials, in part so they can stop going out and putting themselves and others at risk by traveling and gathering.
No one is paying attention to stay home orders in big cities. It’s the same in New York City. While people are told to stay home, and most businesses are closed, the streets are still teeming with people who walk shoulder to shoulder, just like any other day. It’s the same in Chicago, and this is causing the virus to spread at a frightening pace.
How Chicago Can Heal
According to health experts all over the planet, including members of the World Health Organization and the CDC, the best hope everyone has, particularly larger metro areas, is for a treatment to be developed. The fact of the matter is that most people simply do not and will not listen. “Everyone thinks they’re the exception to the rule,” is a line reportedly said through a leaked memo by an anonymous source within the CDC. Whether that was actually said or not, the fact is it models reality very well, and people refuse to stay home.
This means a treatment might be the only hope to curb the pandemic. Until that point, Chicago is hoping some stimulus funds will at least ease the burden some.
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