ARPA Direct Assistance Program falls 319 short in lottery



Nearly 2,000 Johnson Countians will receive $1,400 one-time payments through the Johnson County Direct Assistance Program funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

But 319 other eligible residents, who didn’t get lucky in a lottery-type system utilized by the county’s ARPA Team to determine the payments, were left out. The gap in the coverage produced nearly 30 minutes of public comment during the Johnson County Board of Supervisors formal meeting July 14, including a comment by Supervisors candidate Jammie Bradshaw of Lone Tree.

Johnson County allocated $2 million of its approximate $28 million in ARPA funds for the Direct Assistance Program. Iowa City kicked in $1.35 million and Coralville contributed $27,000, according to a statement issued by Johnson County. All of the county money and all of Coralville’s allocation was used, but Supervisor Lisa Green-Douglass pointed out Thursday that more than $680,000 was returned to Iowa City per subrecipient agreements among Johnson County, Iowa City and Coralville.

According to the Johnson County ARPA Team, 2,238 of 2,411 applications were ruled eligible. Of those, Direct Assistance has funded 1,919.

To fully fund the program and provide payments for the 319 eligible applicants who were left out, the cost would be $446,600, plus administrative charges.

“It is an easy thing to amend our agreement with Iowa City so every eligible applicant can receive a stabilization payment from the Direct Assistance Program,” Supervisor Jon Green, a former Lone Tree mayor who lives in Lone Tree, told The News. “We can do this while honoring the original intent of these agreements, that Iowa City money should help Iowa City residents and Coralville money should help Coralville residents.”

If the agreements are amended, Green suggested, the issue would be solved.

“Were we to do that, Iowa City would help 319 more of its residents while Johnson County would have sufficient funds to pay every eligible applicant,” he said.

Bradshaw, a Republican who is one of four on November’s ballot seeking two Supervisor positions, told the board it was not just Iowa City residents who were left out.

“A lot of people outside of Iowa City were left out,” she said. “If you were to fall on hard times, you and your family, would you feel it was right that not being an Iowa City resident, you were left out?

“I don’t understand why, if the money was already there and approved and we had more than enough money there to take care of over 2,400 individuals, why these people are not taken care of. You’ve heard their stories. They’ve lived here, they work here, you interact with them on a daily basis. They put money into this county, they put money into the city. Why are they not being taken care of?”

Green, who has been a vocal advocate for the Direct Assistance Program over months of discussions about ARPA funds dating back to 2021, hopes those applicants can receive payments. The board could not formally discuss the issue last week because it was not an agenda item.

“We – Johnson County, Iowa City, Coralville – have done a tremendously important service for the 1,919 residents of the county,” he told The News. “I understand why the cities negotiated their agreements as they did, they wanted to be good stewards to their constituents. But now we know what the universe of approved applicants is and we know we can pay every claim if we make one technical fix.

“I’d hate for us to claim defeat from the jaws of victory for the 319 unpaid claimants.”

Among the rezonings approved by the board at its formal session was a 1.88-acre property located southwest of Lone Tree. The property is being rezoned from agricultural to residential, and is located on the west side of Sioux Avenue SE and south of 640th Street SE.

Preliminary and final plats were approved for Johnston Estate, a 1-lot farmstead split located in southwestern Johnson County, northwest of Frytown. The property is located on the east side of Black Hawk Avenue SW, south of Black Diamond Road SW.

The board will hold its next formal meeting at 9 a.m. July 21.

Johnson County, ARPA, Direct Assistance, Jon Green, Jammie Bradshaw


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