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Health, homes for those in need top ARPA funding decisions at Lubbock City Council

The Lubbock City Council on May 10
The Lubbock City Council on May 10(Source: KCBD)
Published: May. 10, 2022 at 10:34 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - At the final regular meeting for this current Lubbock City Council on Tuesday, members made more decisions on how to spend federal pandemic relief dollars. The health and housing of the city and Lubbock County’s citizens dominated discussions.

The City of Lubbock added South Plains College to its Talent Pipeline Management Program and will provide 208 $2,000 scholarships for students who seek health sciences education for jobs including medical assistants, nursing assistants, registered nurses or other nursing degrees.

At the next council meeting, there is an agreement with the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center for 195 scholarships that will go before the council. This follows agreements that were approved in April with Lubbock Christian University, Covenant School of Nursing and Wayland Baptist University. The scholarships will be available through the institutions.

The council approved the allocation of $3.5 million for the StarCare Specialty Health Center, a diversion center for those experiencing a mental health crisis. The partnership with Lubbock County to build the facility is in hopes of keeping those with mental health issues out of emergency rooms, jails and other inpatient hospitals when appropriate.

“If they decide they want to go to jail, I’m sure they’ll accommodate them,” Councilwoman Latrelle Joy said. “That’s not the intent. The intent is to give them the services they need, whether it’s a detox, mental health or even if it’s medical.”

Another Lubbock County partnership will establish a Public Health District, which will allow the Public Health Department to serve the City of Lubbock and Lubbock County. Services will expand to the Lubbock County line.

“I’m very excited about the opportunity,” Public Health Director Katherine Wells said. “One thing we’ve learned through COVID is communicable diseases and a lot of other public health issues are not just the city. It involves a lot of people out in the county.”

Lubbock County will use $3.5 million of its ARPA funding to help renovate a new Public Health/Community Development facility at 2051 50th Street.

The city council also approved the allocation of $1.25 million for infrastructure needs at an affordable housing development with Lubbock Habitat for Humanity. It will result in the build of 55 single-family homes on 4.5 acres.

Finally, the council approved the use of $3.5 million for the establishment of a local Continuum of Care. The City of Lubbock will leave the Texas Balance of State Continuum of Care and instead work with local agencies and entities to end homelessness.

“That will really be a process where we bring all the stakeholders in the community in to help us work on the homeless issues as we go forward,” Deputy City Manager Bill Howerton said.

The Lubbock City Council previously entered into agreements with the South Plains Association of Governments to administer a small business grant program and the Community Foundation of West Texas for a nonprofit grant program. The council was told the application process for nonprofits will open May 16 and for small business on May 23. The City of Lubbock is expected to release application information to news media for publication in the coming days.

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