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Council appropriates ARP funds for eviction counsel, COVID relief programs

Charlottesville’s City Council has appropriated more than $1.9 million in American Rescue Plan funds to city and community programs. The appropriation will fund an eviction prevention program in partnership with the Legal Aid Justice Center, which will provide free legal representation for tenants facing eviction.

$300,000 will go to the eviction prevention initiative.

The appropriation also will fund the Peace in the Streets gun violence prevention program and the Conscious Capitalist Foundation youth mentoring program at the Lugo-McGinnis Academy, both of which sought city funding in June.

“While we’re putting together a program to go out to our public partners and stakeholders and nonprofits that are providing community assistance, we have had some very immediate needs that we brought to you prior to putting that program together,” City Manager Chip Boyles said at Monday night’s council meeting.

The appropriation includes $811,100 in funding for emergency relief and community assistance, as well as $176,500 in Department of Human Services COVID-related assistance.

“The emergency and immediate needs that we have identified are in the areas of housing assistance for rental housing, mitigation for helping to pay other household expenses to families that have lost jobs … In addition to that, we also have some immediate needs in the areas of economic development, trying to provide support to some of the smaller businesses that have been harmed during the pandemic,” Boyles said.

The city received about $9.8 million in ARP funding in May, and will receive a second tranche of funding in the same amount in 2022.

Boyles said a large portion of the first tranche of funds will be used to replenish city revenue that was lost during the pandemic. The city is expecting that amount to be around $7.3 million.

“Anyone who has what they believe is a direct COVID-related emergency need similar to rent relief and other things [is] more than welcome to send me a request for information,” he said.

City staffers are waiting to commit the second half of funding to programs until they actually know the city will receive it, Boyles said. The city is working to create an application process for community groups and programs interested in receiving a portion of the remaining funding.

Fontaine project

Also Monday, the City Council voted to approve the design for the Fontaine Avenue Streetscape project. The project seeks to improve pedestrian and bicycle facilities, safety for all users, transit access and facilities and traffic flow.

Fontaine Avenue is a mixed-use residential/commercial gateway to Charlottesville and the University of Virginia. The project area extends from the city limits near the Fontaine Research Park to and including the intersection of Fontaine Avenue and Jefferson Park Avenue, about half a mile in length.

Construction is estimated to begin in the spring of 2023.

The project is fully funded by the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Smart Scale program and will cost approximately $11.7 million.

One of the major goals of the project is creating a buffer space between the roadway and bike lanes and sidewalks and other walkways.

The project is led by RK&K, a civil engineering firm based in Baltimore, and Toole Design, a national transportation engineering firm, in association with the city. The team held a public hearing in May and received public comments through an online form to help inform the design.

The project is expected to connect to Albemarle County’s proposed bicycle and pedestrian facilities that will lead to the Fontaine Research Park and beyond; improve access to the UVa Medical Center from Interstate 64 and U.S. 29; increase opportunities for people to efficiently access businesses, jobs, services and distribution hubs; and provide opportunities to reduce vehicular travel by improving pedestrian walkways and bike lanes.

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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