Release Date: April 15,2021
Mayor Horrigan Announces Priorities for $153M in American Rescue Plan Funding
Historical influx of money will allow large scale community investments
Akron, Ohio, April 15, 2021 — Congress passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan on March 11, 2021, with a portion of that money slated to go directly to state and local governments. The City of Akron will be receiving $153,370,000 of direct federal funding from the American Rescue Plan. This funding represents the largest positive fiscal jolt to the City budget in history. These federal dollars will be used as a catalyst to kick start programs focused on inclusive economic growth, vibrant public spaces and recreation for all, and a substantial investment in residential housing, all while addressing continued immediate needs as fallout from the pandemic. The funds will be distributed in two rounds. The first will be distributed in May 2021 and the second in May 2022. The funds must be spent by December 31, 2024.
"This pandemic has profoundly affected our City," said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. “This federal funding is the boost we need to not only get back on our feet, but to create lasting growth and positive change for future generations. We are looking carefully at how we spend this money equitably in a way that benefits everyone, especially focusing on those hardest hit by the pandemic."
Under the American Rescue Plan, the listed allowable uses for funds are defined in much broader strokes as compared to the previous federally-allocated CARES Act dollars. These uses include: responding to the COVID-19 public health emergency or its negative economic impacts, reimbursing municipal costs associated with the pandemic, providing government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue, and investing in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure.
Mayor Horrigan and his administration have identified six key priorities for expenditures. Each priority has an estimated funding allocation which will be further defined as specific program details and investments are determined. Final Federal guidance is forthcoming which may impact the specific investments for each priority.
- Housing – Estimated $25M
- Housing rehabilitation grant program, residential building grants for infill housing
- Public Utility Support – Estimated $25M
- Investments in drinking water infrastructure including lead services and water mains, ongoing Akron Cares Utility Bill Relief grant program
- Local Economic Recovery - Estimated $24M
- Small business loans, supporting entrepreneurship ecosystem/access, assisting local sectors directly impacted by COVID-19, supporting downtown Akron recovery, increasing job readiness/access/employment services, investing in Vacant Building Registry to combat blight
- Community and Youth Violence Prevention - Estimated $20M
- Youth employment programs/training, Youth Violence Prevention Strategic Plan priorities, recreational assets for teens and young adults, gun violence reduction strategies or programming
- Parks and Public Facilities - Estimated $30M
- Investments in City park and public space projects, community center capital needs, downtown parking deck maintenance.
- City IT and Budget Stabilization - Estimated $29M
- Replace revenue lost due to the pandemic's economic impacts, maintaining at least $25 million in cash reserves through 2026 to weather additional economic fallout/potential tax code changes, invest in existing city workforce, continued hardware replacement and cybersecurity upgrades.
Specifically as it relates to housing, Akron will receive an additional $5.3 million in HOME/ESG funding from the American Rescue Plan to be spent on homeless response and low-income housing needs. The City of Akron, in coordination with the Continuum of Care, will release a separate targeted plan using the HOME and Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG) dollars to assist those facing homelessness in Akron.
Beginning today through May 31, City of Akron management and Akron City Council will submit projects for consideration. Mayor Horrigan, along with Akron City Council President, will review and score the projects based on pre-determined project evaluation criteria. A recommended allocation plan for the 2021 payment will total approximately $75 million and will then be submitted to Akron City Council for review and final approval. “This funding is such a life-changing opportunity for Akron and its residents,” said Akron City Council President Margo Sommerville. “Imagine if more people were able to own their own homes, if our kids had more opportunities for meaningful and diverse recreation, if we could truly wipe out blight in seemingly forgotten neighborhoods. We plan on investing this money into our community in ways that will have lasting and meaningful results for the people of Akron.”
Mayor Horrigan aims to submit the payment allocation recommendation to Council by July 5 and have an approval from Council by July 19, 2021.