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Tracking federal COVID relief funds: what are Cleveland’s priorities?

Published: Nov. 10, 2021 at 8:49 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - How can $511-million in federal dollars for Covid relief help our city?

We continue to keep our eye on the money as the mayor of Cleveland and city council narrow down their priorities.

19 Investigates got a hold of extensive documents showing where the money could go.

We found the spreadsheets cover everything from small business loans to lead safety.

Millions of dollars have already been approved to go to the general fund for revenue lost from the pandemic.

$20 million has been set aside for broadband access, and another $5 million is going to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.

But what about the rest of the funds?

The mayor’s office has a few ideas for that, and we saw many city council members outline their priorities this week in a city council special working group on Monday.

They looked at areas including public health, housing, infrastructure, and public safety.

19 Investigates found more than $111-million would go to housing & homeownership if it’s approved.

Right now, it’s the biggest amount on the list.

“We have to do things differently; we need to create a process, a track for homeownership in this city,” said Council Member Mike Polensek at Monday’s meeting.

The mayor is requesting $26-million for public safety.

We discovered police are asking for the most money, more than $10 million.

Some of it would buy vehicles like 50 new detective cars.

Help could also be on the way for Cleveland EMS as we continue to report on ambulances breaking down and out of service.

They’re asking for 15 new ambulances.

Council Member Kevin Conwell said they need to move fast.

“You have these guys out here, EMS workers; we’re putting them at risk. We’re putting our workers at risk; I think we move forward with that,” Conwell said.

All of these decisions are being made in the middle of a transition for the city.

Mayor-elect Justin Bibb will take over for Mayor Frank Jackson in January.

Both have a say in where the money goes since some of these plans will pass this year.

Cleveland City Council has to approve all of the legislation covering relief funds.

Right now, they’re talking about the first half of the money.

The city has to spend of all of it by the end of 2024.

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