What’s Going on with ARPA in Greater Cleveland?

Work is underway for our Greater Cleveland American Rescue Plan Council (GCARP Council). We are in the process of bringing together a steering committee to guide our coalition and work, and we are planning to hold our first public meeting in Spring, 2022. Stay tuned for more details on how to engage with this important work.

In the meantime, we are committed to tracking ARPA funding in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. Local Governments received half (the first tranche) of their State and Local Fiscal Recovery Dollars from the federal government in May, 2021, and they are due to receive the second tranche in May, 2022. Local governments around the country have taken varying approaches to spending the funds, both in terms of their decision-making processes, and in the kinds of projects they are investing in with the funds. National League of Cities has a useful tool for looking at allocations across the country; notably, the largest slice of the pie has been allocated to government operations. ARPA funds present a huge opportunity, especially for larger cities, to make strategic impactful investments, but they also provide much needed support for cities facing revenue losses to plug budget holes.

Maximizing, leveraging and stretching Greater Cleveland ARPA funding

One theme that comes through in most conversations about ARPA funding is how we can “leverage” or “maximize” funds. Our GCARP Council has that as one of our goals, and it is also a theme of some major announcements around ARPA funding in the region. For example, when Mayor Justin Bibb announced that his administration would invest $17M in lead safe housing, that announcement came with the promise of an additional $50M from The Cleveland Clinic. Similarly, County Executive Armond Budish in his first ARPA announcement video shared a plan to invest $9M of the County’s ARPA funds in a workforce pipeline program, and he said the funding would be accompanied with another $9M in matching funds. The GCARP Council will be looking for future opportunities to identify collaborations and partnerships that can bring more money to the table, be it additional state or federal funds, or philanthropic or private funds, to stretch these dollars further and ensure our region gets what it needs to recover effectively from the pandemic.

In December, 2021, Cleveland City Council approved outgoing Mayor Frank Jackson’s spending allocations for much of the first tranche of funding ($256M).

Status of City of Cleveland ARPA Funding

In December, 2021, Cleveland City Council approved outgoing Mayor Frank Jackson’s spending allocations for much of the first tranche of funding ($256M), but it is unclear how much of that funding has been spent to date. Those allocations include:

  • $108M for revenue loss recovery (this money was transferred to the general fund and was part of the carryover balance that was used to balance the 2022 Budget)[i]
  • $20M for Broadband access
  • $26M for Public Safety Equipment and supplies
  • $5M for the Cleveland Food Bank
  • $80M to Community and Economic Development– some of these funds have been encumbered for specific uses and organizations as follows:
    • $3M to Allen Estates housing development
    • $2M to Northeast Ohio Neighborhood Health Service (NEON)
    • $8M to redevelop 9410 Hough Ave.
    • $2M to Hitchcock Center for Women
  • $15M for housing demolition
  • $17M for the Lead Safe Home Fund

Although some of these allocations came with specific encumbrances and the funding is in the process of being spent (the funds granted to specific nonprofits, and the public safety funding, for example), the Bibb administration and current City Council will have the responsibility of carrying out and determining many of the specifics around these fairly broad allocations. Additionally, they have the second tranche of funding to work with, which has not yet been allocated.

Mayor Bibb’s Transition Report has ARPA recommendations

We can learn from Mayor Bibb’s Transition Report some indications of what his administration might propose to do with the funds. One of these recommendations is to establish an “Office of Economic Recovery” to focus on how to invest and leverage federal and other funding streams in critical areas- the report specifically calls out: “water infrastructure, lead abatement, public housing, community development, and research & development opportunities.” There is also a recommendation that any allocation of these funds should be done in a way that prioritizes equity.

There is also a recommendation that any allocation of these funds should be done in a way that prioritizes equity.

When it comes to specifics, the Transition Report includes recommendations to provide funding in a handful of areas including:

Status of Cuyahoga County ARPA Funding

On March 16, 2022, County Executive Budish began to roll out his proposal for the County’s $240M in ARPA Funding. In an announcement video, he outlined how the County had been gathering input, fielding proposals, and working with stakeholders to arrive at a plan of how to invest the funds in a transformative way in the community. He emphasized the need to balance current pressing needs, and also look to the future in the way funds were used. This video was the first in a series, and we can expect to learn more specifics about the County’s plan in coming weeks as the administration introduces proposals to County Council.

Some of the allocations proposed include:

  • $9M to a workforce pipeline program in partnership with schools, to help train workers for in-demand jobs
  • $5 million brownfield remediation
  • $5 million to the Cleveland Food Bank toward its new facility
  • About $2.75M for COVID-19 prevention including:
    • $1.5M to the Board of Health for COVID testing
    • $500,000 toward inmate vaccination incentives
    • $750,000 for Personal Protective Equipment
  • Some funding (amount TBD) to provide youth emergency services; an RFP is forthcoming
  • $4.5M to support various IT upgrades at the county

Community Solutions will continue to track these funds as legislation is introduced and as funds are expended in the community.

[i] https://www.cleveland.com/news/2022/03/cleveland-city-council-committee-approves-mayor-justin-bibbs-budget-despite-reservations.html