(The Square in the Middle) – The second batch of expenditures from more than $80 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) monies has been approved by the Spokane City Council.
This week, a little more than $12 million was approved for distribution as follows:
- A total of $1.2 million will be available to mobile medical clinics throughout the region.
- A total of $1.5 million is available for reimbursement of permits for affordable housing.
- Grants totaling $900,000 will be available to compensate the city for marketing and security costs associated with downtown cultural events.
- $3.5 million will be used to support capital and operating costs for homelessness services.
- $3 million will be spent on culturally appropriate behavioral health services and interventions for at-risk and low-income youth.
- Projects with city-wide impacts, such as those that aid the homeless and youth, defend against COVID-19, or promote economic growth, are eligible to compete for $2 million.
At Monday’s meeting, Council President Breean Beggs announced that a request for proposals would be issued in the selected areas. He stated that the council will be able to analyze the projects that were submitted.
“I’m excited to be a part of that process and expect to see some nice results,” said Councilor Michael Cathcart.
Beggs was asked by Councilor Karen Stratton if he had gotten any information from Mayor Nadine Woodward’s office about a plan to create a year-round homeless shelter, what facilities would be used, and what expenditures would be involved.
Beggs responded, “We’re still waiting for anything definitive that we can report out to the public.” “I wish I had more information since everyone is anxious.”
Members of the council have been expressing their dissatisfaction for weeks, claiming that the city went into a severe winter storm in December without a clear plan for sheltering the homeless. They want to see a strategy in place before the summer’s hottest weeks.
In January, Woodward noted that neighborhood opposition made finding a suitable location for the shelter “difficult.”
The second round of financial allocations comes after the council awarded slightly more than $14 million in 12 categories in January:
- For $6 million, affordable housing projects may compete.
- Down payment assistance of $2 million is available to first-time homeowners with earnings below 80% of the average median income.
- A $1 million grant was awarded to a plan to increase housing along transit corridors.
- A $300,000 grant will be given to an eviction legal defense and education program.
A total of $1 million will be available for daycare providers.
- A further $1 million will be allocated to artists’ employment support.
- A total of $1.5 million will be spent on play equipment and restroom repairs in public parks. Parks in the city’s low-income neighborhoods will be prioritized.
- Individuals who are in danger of becoming embroiled in the criminal justice system, or who are already involved, can apply for a $400,000 pre-apprentice schooling program.
- The city will spend $300,000 on an Equity Navigator Service to ensure that monies are spent to support diverse and historically underserved populations.
- Internal finance professionals were given $305,000 to handle and execute the city’s portion of the ARP funds.
- A $120,000 fee will be paid to an outside firm to check that the city is approving adequately eligible projects by federal guidelines.
- The Treasury Department is in charge of overseeing the use of ARP monies.
A further $120,000 will cover the cost of a Community Engagement and Project Coordinator to assist the council and administration with ARP expenditure.