Cook County received $1 billion from the federal American Rescue Plan Act.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle on Wednesday released details on how the funds will be budgeted:
• $320 million will be allocated for this year.
• $60 million will go to violence prevention and reduction programs.
• Another $60 million will go to health and wellness programs.
• And $100 million will go to economic and community development initiatives.
The violence prevention funding will continue to go into street intervention work, as well as community-based organizations working around anti-violence and recidivism.
“There are a variety of initiatives that we have been supporting since 2013 and are now working in conjunction with the state and the city to ensure that we make the best possible investments,” Preckwinkle said.
Of the $60 million for health and wellness programs, $16 million will go into behavioral health services. The county will create a new Department of Mental Health Services and use the funding in part to expand personnel and mental health support at existing county clinics.
“Cook County, not to our credit, has not over time really put significant investments in behavioral health and it’s long past the moment when we should be doing that,” Preckwinkle said.
There’s also a plan to use $42 million for a guaranteed income pilot program. The county used some of the federal CARES Act money in 2020 to provide $600 stipends for families in need.
However, this time around, the county will figure out how to make the program sustainable for it to stay in place after ARPA funds are exhausted.
“It’s not an unreasonable idea, right?” said Preckwinkle. “People who are poor need money, so the money will help them address the challenges in their lives.”.