President Preckwinkle announces more than $83 million in disaster recovery, public safety grants

Following approval of more than $83 million in grant awards at Wednesday’s Cook County Board meeting, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced that her office expects grant revenue for Fiscal Year 2015 to total more than $220 million. This represents a nearly 36 percent increase over the current fiscal year and is $30 million higher than predicted in June.

“Aggressively pursuing grant money has allowed us to expand existing services and create innovative new programs that improve the lives of Cook County residents,” Preckwinkle said. “From public safety to economic development, these grant dollars are making a critical difference. We set the bar high and I am proud to report that we are exceeding expectations.”

The Board of Commissioners on Wednesday approved a $54.9 million U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant to provide assistance to targeted areas that have been affected by severe storms and flooding as well as a grant for $27.65 million to assist and enhance homeland security efforts. Cook County receives grant funds from federal, state, and private agencies for a variety of direct and indirect services provided by Cook County under the program areas of economic development, health care, government, finance and administration and public safety.

While noting that every grant serves an important purpose, Preckwinkle lauded several specific programs that have been awarded grants throughout the year:

Focused on providing support for long-term recovery efforts in areas of suburban Cook County impacted by 2013 flooding, the Department of Planning and Development received a $68.8 million Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 
Aimed at providing housing, offering a suitable living environment and expanding economic opportunities, the County received $9.7 million in Community Development Block Grant funding from HUD.
To support summer youth training and job placement activities in the areas of restoration and conservation of natural resources in partnership with the Forest Preserves of Cook County, the Cook County Justice Advisory Council was awarded a Summer Youth Employment grant totaling $566,400 from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
Cook County received a Brownfields Assessment Grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for $600,000 to assist in the environmental assessment and eventual redevelopment of potentially contaminated properties in Bellwood, Franklin Park, Forest Park, Maywood, Melrose Park, Northlake, and Schiller Park.
The County received an Adult Redeploy Initiative grant for $1 million to help divert low-risk offenders from entering the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Cook County has been awarded nearly $55 million from the Department of Homeland Security and Illinois Emergency Management Agency for an Urban Area Security Initiative aimed at efforts to respond and recover from natural disasters and acts of terrorism.
Challenged by Preckwinkle to streamline and improve the grant application process, the Cook County Department of Budget and Management Services has collaborated with other central service departments like the Comptroller’s office to implement significant reforms to improve the County’s grant management process. These reforms are aimed at increasing grant revenue, improving and promoting transparency. Since President Preckwinkle took office, Cook County has been awarded $850 million in grants.

“Historically, grant funding had not been a priority for the County,” Preckwinkle added. “We are setting a high standard for grant management and are quickly approaching $1 billion grant dollars in the last four years for programs improving public health, creating jobs and fostering economic development.”

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