Holy Rose, California – December 15, 2021 – The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors this week began the process of approving the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) $ 96 million federal allocation, basing its decisions on recommendations from the resulting community. engagement with the ARPA Equity Working Group, public community meetings, and focus groups. Using public health data and indices such as the Healthy Places Index and the Human Development Index, and focusing the experiences of community members disproportionately affected by the pandemic, the county deepened its understanding historical inequalities and will focus on investment strategies to tackle them to achieve a more equitable recovery.
ARPA funding has been approved for COVID response and ongoing surveillance, creation of a new public health laboratory / morgue, essential worker compensation for county employees, and county investments to improve cultural responsiveness. In addition, funds have been allocated for a rapid economic aid program, housing and homeless assistance initiatives, the development of a broadband system for rural areas and at low prices. community investment.
The first allocations approved on Tuesday included $ 8 million for the construction of a new public health laboratory and a mortuary to replace the current facility. Supervisors also approved about $ 8 million in essential worker compensation for current county employees who worked during the pandemic and three targeted investments specifically designed to improve the county’s ability to respond to culture. These included investments in improving geographic mapping information to make it easier for staff to understand county demographics ($ 450,000); the second is an investment in a consultant to develop a community engagement strategy to help guide the department’s efforts with traditionally underserved communities and communities of color ($ 400,000). Finally, a linguistic access proposal ($ 310,000) will hire a consultant to assess the existing language access provisions, assess language needs and recommend and implement a county-wide language access policy. .
A second set of grants has been approved to develop and launch a $ 9 million rapid economic assistance program to address the impacts of the pandemic on low-income residents, $ 4 million to tackle homelessness and $ 3 million to create a broadband governance organization and set money aside when funds are needed to match state and federal grants expected in the near future for broadband development at scale. County. The specific details of the rapid economic assistance program will be presented to the supervisory board in early 2022. In making its award decisions on Tuesday, the supervisory board was informed by town halls and the recommendations of the working group on equity. ARPA, which was appointed in September and has been meeting since October.
âWith these ARPA investments, we have the opportunity in Sonoma County to make generational changes to improve the lives of those most affected by the pandemic,â said Lynda Hopkins, chair of the oversight board. âWe appreciate the diligent and careful work of the ARPA Fairness Task Force which resulted in the recommendations that our Board of Directors wholeheartedly endorsed. ”
The funds come from the total of $ 96 million allocated to the county through the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act in March. The board of directors also approved $ 28.7 million to support continued COVID-19 response and surveillance efforts as well as the ARPA implementation plan.
According to ARPA, which was enacted in March, the funding goals are to: support urgent response efforts to COVID-19; replace lost revenue for eligible local governments to support vital public services and help keep jobs; support the immediate economic stabilization of households and businesses; and address the systemic public health and economic challenges that have contributed to the uneven impact of the pandemic. The federal government has allocated $ 96 million directly to Sonoma County and the funds are to be committed by December 31, 2024 and fully spent by December 31, 2026.
Community investment compartments were identified through community engagement efforts, including virtual town halls, community surveys, and input from the ARPA Equity Working Group. Based on the comments and insights from these sources, the main categories of community investment awards are as follows. The level of funding was also based on the level of need expressed as part of the community engagement process:
- Negative economic impacts on individuals and households ($ 20.5 million)
- Disparities in public health outcomes ($ 13.6 million)
The Board agreed that funding allocations could be reallocated based on eligible proposals received in each category. These categories included specific needs such as mental health services, immediate direct support to households, childcare, broadband, training and development, and a universal basic income pilot project.
The above funding allocations will be awarded to a mix of community organizations and county departments based on a solicitation process. The ARPA team will be running community workshops starting in January so they can understand and ask questions about funding requirements to apply for the Community Investment Awards. The workshops will take place on Zoom and the recordings will be available on the ARPA website.
The timing, evaluation, selection and award process for ARPA Community Investment Funds are as follows:
- January 2022 – Community workshops on the application process and opportunities to create inter-agency partnerships for joint funding applications.
- January / February 2022 – ARPA solicitation with proposed deadline six to eight weeks after publication.
- March / April 2022 – The review committee will review applications and make funding recommendations based on defined criteria.
- May / June 2022 – Recommended funding agreements to the Board of Directors for approval and provide technical assistance to proponents on performance measures and federal funding requirements.
- July 2022 – June 2024 – Funds disbursed through the community and recipients submit quarterly performance reports and participate in results-driven accountability conversations with county staff.
For more information and to learn more about community workshops, visit the ARPA web page at https://sonomacounty.ca.gov/CAO/ARPA/. You can also consult the board meeting of December 14, 2021 on https://sonoma-county.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx.