City to support housing, arts, scholarships with ARPA funds

Published: Apr. 27, 2022 at 10:01 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The Lubbock City Council approved several agreements Tuesday taking the next steps to distribute some of its American Rescue Plan Act Funding, which include grant application programs for small businesses, nonprofits, the cultural and arts sector as well as pledges to fund infrastructure for an affordable housing development and scholarships for medical students at some Lubbock institutions.

The affordable housing is expected to be made up of a minimum of 66 three or four-bedroom single-family homes north of Estacado High School in East Lubbock on about 15 acres. The City of Lubbock has agreed to provide $1.25 million to build the infrastructure while MBE, LLC, known as Mission Homes, will fund the rest.

“After the public dollars are used for infrastructure, then you have the private dollars coming in to build the houses and then, in turn, sell those to qualified home buyers,” Deputy City Manager Bill Howerton told the Council.

In its effort to aid the “talent pipeline”, the City of Lubbock is entering agreements with Lubbock Christian University, Covenant School of Nursing and Wayland Baptist University to provide a total of 247 $2,000 scholarships for students who seek health sciences education for jobs including medical assistants, nursing assistants, registered nurses or other nursing degrees.

“The stat that really jumped out and hit me: Texas, as a state, is the fourth lowest state in terms of nurses per capita in the country,” City Manager Jarrett Atkinson said citing a Texas Comptroller article. “I think putting these dollars toward this program, because these institutions have access to other dollars as well, the whole goal is go fast but it’s to get more than they were able to the year before. The problem can’t be that these students can’t afford to get into this.”

There are plans to include South Plains College as well as the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center and for similar agreements to fund job training for licensed trades, life skills and childcare.

The Lubbock City Council also entered into agreements with the South Plains Association of Governments to administer a small business grant program, the Community Foundation of West Texas for a nonprofit grant program and the Lubbock Cultural Arts Foundation for a grant program for artists or businesses in the cultural and arts sectors.

The City has allocated a total of $4.5 million total for the administrative and grant costs across the three areas. Those grants could range from $5,000 to $20,000 for nonprofits and small businesses or $25,000 for arts businesses.

“Most of the arts sector, tourism, leisure businesses were closed, the first to close and last to reopen,” Assistant City Manager Brooke Witcher said.

Howerton told the Council a public announcement of the application process for small businesses and nonprofits would come by the end of the week of April 25.

The application program tasked to the Lubbock Cultural Arts Foundation is still in development. Staff is expected to complete training in June.

Scholarships, according to city staff, would most likely be available in the upcoming Fall or Spring semester through the institution.

To see the April 26 council meeting, click here.

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