Through the passage of House of Representative Bill 1319, also known as the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), state, tribal, and local governments are expected to receive much-needed assistance to help offset the negative impacts of COVID-19.
Richmond is currently situated to receive $27.7 million with the first installment received in August 2021, and the final installment expected one year later in 2022.
As part of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021-22 annual budget process, the Richmond City Council approved an allocation of $10.5 million in ARPA funds for various projects, including funding to conduct a Community Needs Assessment (CNA) for informing City Council’s decision for how to allocate the remaining ARPA relief funding of $17.2 million. All funds have to be allocated by the end of 2024 and spent by the end of 2026.
State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) Program
The Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) program, a part of the American Rescue Plan, delivers $350 billion to state, local, and Tribal governments across the country to support their response to and recovery from the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The SLFRF program provides governments across the country with the resources needed to:
Fight the pandemic and support families and businesses struggling with its public health and economic impacts
Maintain vital public services, even amid declines in revenue resulting from the crisis
Build a strong, resilient, and equitable recovery by making investments that support long-term growth and opportunity
SLFRF funds may be used to:
Replace lost public sector revenue, using this funding to provide government services up to the amount of revenue lost due to the pandemic
Respond to the far-reaching public health and negative economic impacts of the pandemic, by supporting the health of communities, and helping households, small businesses, impacted industries, nonprofits, and the public sector recover from economic impacts
Provide premium pay for essential workers, offering additional support to those who have and will bear the greatest health risks because of their service in critical sectors
Invest in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure, making necessary investments to improve access to clean drinking water, to support vital wastewater and stormwater infrastructure, and to expand affordable access to broadband internet
The Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds provide substantial flexibility for each jurisdiction to meet local needs within these four separate eligible use categories.
Per ARPA Interim rules, Treasury includes language stating that governments may use ARPA funds to engage in planning and analysis in order to improve programs addressing the COVID19 pandemic, through use of targeted consumer outreach, improvements to data, or technology infrastructure, impact evaluations, and data analysis. The Interim Rules also mention the desire for jurisdictions to use ARPA funds to provide equity-focused services and serve the hardest-hit communities and families.
The City of Richmond will be conducting a community needs assessment to evaluate current assets and determine community needs/gaps in services or programs that can be provided to Richmond residents through the use of ARPA funds. The CNA will be based on, but not limited to input on;
how to spend ARPA funds,
understanding community needs and assets, and
understanding needs based on the hardest hit/most impacted communities.
Community engagement is essential to the development of the Community Needs Assessment and Strategic Investment Plan. The City collected preliminary ARPA input in April 2021, and other assessments, reports, surveys, etc. have been conducted which might help to inform this work. Information collected through this CNA will increase the City’s understanding of the types of challenges faced by Richmond residents as a result of COVID-19 (i.e. the impact of the end of federal unemployment benefits, the exacerbated housing crises, and other challenges that are unique to the current moment). The CNA will also provide opportunities for supporting the community’s voice, highlight the types of services needed, and ensure our recovery assistance is designed to best meet the needs of our community. The information generated as a result of the CNA may also be used to guide and/or inform other Council priorities and City work.