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Polk supervisors OK $36.8 million for housing, health want water projects

The Polk County Board of Supervisors is injecting millions of dollars of federal money into projects ranging from water trails to health care.

The board on Tuesday approved a spending plan for $36.8 million of the American Rescue Plan Act funds the county received from Congress last year. Among priorities: $6 million for residents looking to repair their homes, $5 million in down payment assistance homebuyers and $3 million for psychiatric urgent care.

“I am proud of the extraordinary amount of work that went into this effort to identify initiatives that will have a lasting impact on our community,” board chair Angela Connelly said in a statement.

As part of the coronavirus relief bill that Congress passed in March 2021, lawmakers allocated funds to local governments based on the size of the populations they serve. Polk County received $95 million. Combined with previous spending — which included $15.2 million to build affordable housing —Tuesday’s allocations will account for most of the remainder of the funds, county spokesperson Jon Cahill said in a news release.

Polk County Supervisor Angela Connelly speaks during a press conference on the tornado recovery effort at the Polk County Administration building in Des Moines, Wednesday, March 9, 2022.

In addition to setting money aside for housing repairs and purchases, the supervisors agreed to spend about $11.6 million on projects to improve water quality and encourage outdoors activity.  

More: The time is now to spend up to $16 million on water quality, Polk County manager argues

The board allocated $2 million for the Iowa Confluence Water Trails project, a major downtown development that would modify the two low-head dams to create surfing and kayaking on the Des Moines River. The total project, with a projected budget about $125 million, also will include boat launches and a calm-water area where paddlers can take a break from the rapids.

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