The pandemic emerged as a new public health crisis, but it has also revealed and exacerbated longstanding problems in our community beyond public health. The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) offers a chance to both respond to the direct impacts of the pandemic and make system change that positions Greater Cleveland for a true recovery. Since March 2022, the Greater Cleveland American Rescue Plan Coalition Steering Committee has been meeting to provide strategic direction for our coalition. We have been focused on the spirit of ARPA—recovery from the pandemic.
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) offers a chance to both respond to the direct impacts of the pandemic and make system change that positions Greater Cleveland for a true recovery.
Based on these conversations, we are releasing ten broad policy asks—investments that we feel address the most important pieces of a holistic, equitable recovery for Greater Cleveland.
Workers need jobs that pay a living wage and supports that help them access those jobs, such as strengthened public transportation, reliable childcare, and job training programs that prepare workers with skills that match high-quality jobs. Many sectors are also in need of solutions to attract and retain talent, including the health and social services sector.
Investments that support small local businesses in our neighborhoods are necessary, as well as strategic investments that will position Greater Cleveland for economic growth in the future. Without a strong economy and growing population, we will struggle to generate the revenue needed to sustain basic services.
Healthy & Affordable Housing
Greater Cleveland needs to invest both in meeting the immediate needs for affordable and safe housing, and in sustainable solutions that solve some of our ongoing and persistent housing challenges, such as lack of capital for home repairs and middle-income home ownership, offering a wide range of housing options that meets the diverse needs of residents, and supports aging in place.
Broadband & Technology Access
Investments in broadband infrastructure will address affordability, access, and help close the digital divide. Additionally, we should ensure that people who need access also have the tools and accommodations necessary to successfully use technology.
Early Care & Education
Access to high quality, reliable early childhood care should be available for anyone who needs it—this is also a key issue for building and retaining a strong workforce. Additionally, children of all ages need social-emotional and educational supports coming out of the pandemic.
Behavioral & Physical Health
The pandemic has revealed and exacerbated crises in both behavioral & physical health. Access to community-based behavioral health and primary care services is vital. Additional funding is needed to ensure a robust direct service workforce, and connect people to the services they need.
Modern Government & Civic Engagement
Investments in technology and systems that improve the way governments deliver services and communicate with constituents would generate cost savings in the long term and help foster a more engaged community.
Although there have been temporary measures in place to preserve the health and human services safety net during the pandemic, many will be left vulnerable when the federal public health emergency is lifted. We must ensure that people continue to have access to basic needs, such as food, shelter, healthcare, and employment opportunities.
The pandemic has revealed the ways in which our public health infrastructure is lacking, and investments are needed to ensure that we can improve community health and prevent disease spread into the future. Furthermore, with declarations of “Racism as a Public Health Crisis,” we need to take action to eliminate racial disparities in our local health outcomes.
Environmental issues facing our community have negative impacts on the health of Greater Clevelanders, and we need to make investments now to build climate resilience. Investments in healthy public spaces, eliminating lead risks, transitioning to renewable energy sources, and improving air quality are all needed.
What’s next? The good news is that we know from tracking legislation and conversations about ARPA locally that many of these issues are on the radar of local and state officials. These asks are broad, but we are quickly going to shift into more granular recommendations. To do that, we are launching five work groups, which will meet for the first time in August. The following graphic illustrates what the work groups are, and how they connect to our priority asks.
If you’d like to be a part of the process, we invite you to attend one of the following upcoming work group meetings to share your ideas and expertise.
- Social Inequity: August 10, 11:00am-12:00pm, Register here
- Childcare & Workforce Development: August 16, 2:00pm-3:00pm, Register here
- Generational Wealth Building: August 18, 12:00-1:00pm, Register here
- Public Health & Public Space: August 23, 12:00-1:00pm, Register here
- Physical and Behavioral Health: August 25, 11:00am-12:00pm, Register here