A rendering of the appearance of a renovated large SRO unit at the McGaw YMCA.

The Evanston City Council Monday night gave final approval to a request from the McGaw YMCA for $3 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to cover about a quarter of the cost of a planned remodeling of its nearly century old men’s residence on Grove Street.

The $12.6 million project would remodel the three floors of residences in the Y’s five-story building and provide the 156 residents with upgraded basement-level program space and create a new covered entryway on the east side of the building.

Only dissenting vote on the request came from Ald. Tom Suffredin (6th) who questioned what other projects may be in the pipeline for potential ARPA funding and why the amount of the grant was so high.

The city’s housing and grants manager, Sarah Flax, said the city has received a $3 million request from Family Focus and a $1 million request to create a “One Stop Shop” for home improvement upgrades for low income residents.

In addition, she said, city staff is meeting with Mt. Pisgah Ministry and Housing Opportunity Development Corporation to discuss possible assistance with their planned affordable housing development at Church Street and Darrow Avenue.

It appeared from the discussion that all of those projects could be accommodated within the city’s $43.1 million ARPA allocation

Flax said city subsidy to the YMCA project works out to about $19,200 per unit, compared to a city contribution of $33,400 per unit at the newly constructed Ann Rainey Apartments on Howard Street.

Ald. Peter Braithwaite (2nd) said affordable housing is a key priority for the city and he’s “100% in support” of the project.

Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th), whose ward include the YMCA building said he fully supports the plans, and Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) said the project meets the criteria the city set for evaluating ARPA projects — including that the city contribution should be no more than 25% of the total project cost.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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