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The original item was published from 11/3/2023 1:36:00 PM to 12/2/2023 12:00:00 AM.

News Flash

Linn County Front Page News

Posted on: November 2, 2023

[ARCHIVED] Linn County and Cedar Rapids Collaborate to Address Homelessness

Linn County News, image of Jean Oxley Public Service Center

The Linn County Board of Supervisors will fund a Homelessness Systems Manager position to help address the increasing homeless population in our community. This position will be jointly funded by Linn County and the City of Cedar Rapids for up to three years.  

The City of Cedar Rapids and Linn County have estimated this position could require up to $150,000/year including salary, benefits, and other operating costs. This is an estimate based on the current market conditions for hiring individuals with the specialized skill sets needed for this position. The Linn County Board of Supervisors will contribute $75,000 per year for up to three years for a total of $225,000. The County’s funding source is the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars.

Linn County and the City of Cedar Rapids are committed to reducing the number of on-the-street homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless, specifically in the Cedar Rapids metro area. Linn County and the City of Cedar Rapids currently partner to fund the cold weather overflow shelter located in a building owned by Linn County. 
In the summer of 2023, the City of Cedar Rapids brought in a national homeless consulting firm, the National Alliance to End Homelessness, to assess and review our community’s systems, nonprofit infrastructure, and resources for addressing the increasing homeless population in and around downtown Cedar Rapids. One of the Alliance’s top recommendations was creating a Homelessness Systems Manager.  

About the Homelessness Systems Manager Position

The person hired for the Homelessness Systems Manager will work with Linn County and the City of Cedar Rapids to create a Local Oversight Board that will assist the manager in establishing key performance indicators, priority initiatives, expectations, and deadlines for tasks. 

The Systems Manager will not be a County or City employee but can report on activities to both the Linn County Board of Supervisors and the City of Cedar Rapids Council.

The job description is still being developed; however, the broad responsibilities of this position will include:

  • Overseeing the operation of a Local Oversight Board
  • Monitoring program outcomes, policies, and procedures as established by a Local Oversight Board
  • Collecting data on housing and services to individuals and families at risk of and experiencing homelessness
  • Staying up to date on current Housing and Urban Development (HUD) notices, policy changes, and funding opportunities
  • Monitoring federal funding streams
  • Educating nonprofit providers and local governments on best practices for diversion, prevention, rapid re-housing, permanent supportive housing, and transitional housing
  • Providing training on diversion and coordinated entry

This position will collaborate with community nonprofit organizations that provide direct services and support to the homeless population. 

It is important to note this position will not provide direct social service support to individuals who are homeless. This position will be responsible for reviewing data; monitoring local, state, and federal grants; and creating systems that assist homeless individuals in getting the right service from the right provider at the right time.  

Position Located at Housing Trust Fund for Linn County 

Linn County and the City of Cedar Rapids have agreed to split the costs of hiring a temporary position for up to three years. This position will be housed at the East Central Iowa Council of Government (ECICOG) in the Housing Trust Fund for the Linn County program. ECICOG will provide office space and access to a computer, printer, and technology relevant to the position.

This setup provides several benefits including government neutrality since this is a jointly funded position and will be housed within an organization that has staff expertise in housing, transportation, and regional planning. 

Aligning with Linn County’s Strategic Priorities

Quality of Life
Linn County has a rich history of providing critical human and social services for individuals at risk of homelessness and on-the-street homelessness. Services include a cold weather overflow shelter, General Assistance, assistance to veterans, and mental health services. Funding a Homelessness Systems Manager to focus on improving the systems that help people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless is a quality-of-life issue.

Project Timeline & Milestones
Once established, the Local Oversight Board will create milestones, deadlines, and expectations and review the performance of the Homelessness Systems Manager. 

This position will have until Dec. 31, 2026, to expend funds appropriated for this position and all relevant activities per the guidelines of ARPA funding.

“This collaboration is a great example of the City and the County working together to try to address an issue that’s becoming increasingly more visible and challenging for individuals. It shows the seriousness with which both Linn County and the City of Cedar Rapids are approaching homelessness and is an example of how government works best when it works together,” Linn County Board of Supervisor Ben Rogers said.

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