CLEVELAND — Cleveland city officials addressed residents during a virtual briefing on Thursday morning, discussing the spending of federal stimulus funds.
Representatives from Mayor Frank Jackson's administration outlined plans for funding that is part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which saw more than $511 million provided to Cleveland to help the city recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
You can watch the briefing in the player below:
The ARPA funds, once spent, can only be used for urgent COVID-19 response efforts to bring the pandemic under control, replace lost revenue in the public sector to support public services, support economic stabilization for residents and businesses and to address systemic, institutionalized disparities, inequity and racism.
On Thursday, the administration addressed how it plans to use the first distribution of funding, which it said came from ideas submitted by Cleveland residents.
In July, the city began asking residents using online and paper forms how the funds could be used to improve the quality of living across the city.
More than 2,000 ideas were submitted by residents, with the top suggestion seeing the funding go towards supporting public safety, in addition to addressing job loss through economic opportunity, developing and maintaining quality affordable housing and expanding investment in city services to close the digital divide.
The city outlined areas in which it will focus the first round of ARPA funds, including revenue loss recovery, funding to city services such as for housing court mediation services to reduce mass evictions, expanding the virtual housing court platform, supporting cyber security, purchasing of multiple new fire engines and other public service equipment, efforts to improve vacant lots and recreation centers, expanding the efforts of the Cleveland Food Bank and addressing the digital divide to prevent disparity in virtual schooling and telehealth options.
According to the city, nearly $75 million will be allocated to community and economic development programs that will help with home repair grants, emergency rental assistance for those in need, investments in the Lead Safe Housing Fund, the construction and maintenance of affordable housing, small business support, economic redevelopment grants and support to minority and women-owned businesses across Cleveland.
The City announced that $15 million of the fund will be invested in strategic demolition to improve safety in Cleveland neighborhoods.
More than $26 million will go directly to supporting public safety in Cleveland. The Department of Public Safety plans to use the funds to upgrade vehicles, equipment and technology across pubic safety divisions "to improve responses to emergency incidents." The department said EMS will receive new ambulances, police officers will receive new cruisers and new camera swill be set up used to connect to the city's crime center, among other plans.
When it comes to the residential plans, the City said it will use the funds to address food insecurity, housing insecurity, unsafe housing, economic insecurity and violence. More than $27 million is expected to be allocated for residential efforts. Funds are hoped to be distributed in an effort to support home rehabs, home repair and addressing lead-based hazard.
In economic development, the City has three areas of focus:
- Assist small businesses from the economic impact of COVID-19 and establish new business, especially minority and women-owned businesses.
- Strategic investments to help strengthen neighborhoods that have suffered from disinvestment with affordable housing and small business opportunities.
- Create lasting change to create investment opportunities in Cleveland for years to come.
To date, the City said it has received half of the total allocation of federal funds, marking more than $255 million dollars available to be used now, with the second half set to be distributed in mid-2022. All of the funding must be allocated by the City by Dec. 31, 2024 and fully spent by Dec. 31, 2026.
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