The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021 was passed by Congress and signed by President Biden on March 11, 2021 to deliver direct relief to the American people, rescue the American economy, and start to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic.
The bill includes $1.9 trillion overall, with $110 billion going directly to local and county governments. The City of Hartford will be receiving approximately $112 million, and Hartford Public Schools will be receiving a further $98 million, all of which is meant to be committed over the next three years. The federal government has not issued a final rule regarding the allowable uses of that funding, though it has issued an Interim Final Rule.
Mayor Bronin and the City Council developed and passed a spending plan for this funding through the annual budget process throughout the Spring and early Summer of 2021, including a community survey to help shape priorities.
Given that there will be strict restrictions on how ARP funds can be used, in many cases the dollars the City receives through the ARP will be spent on eligible expenses that are not listed in Hartford’s ARP plan. That will free up other sources of funding that the City will use to fully fund the ARP plan described below.
Mayor Bronin and the City Council adopted a plan to spend the $112 million in ARP funds allocated to the City of Hartford, plus a supplemental $4.7 million in City capital funds, as part of the FY 2022 annual budget process. The goal is to help our community recover from more than a year of profound emotional pain, economic hardship, and social isolation, while at the same time building a foundation for a stronger, healthier, more vibrant and more resilient city in the years ahead. The City also aims to strike a balance between meeting the urgent needs of the moment and making investments that will last beyond the next few years.
Here are the adopted categories of spending that the City is in the process of finalizing, pending final guidance from the federal government:
- Youth Services & Support: $13.9 million
- $7.5 million in grants to youth service providers to support summer and year-round youth programming.
- $3 million to expand youth employment programs and job training programs such as the partnership between the City, Girls for Technology, and GalaxE.Solutions.
- $1.5 million to grow Hartford’s Youth Service Corps by 100 participants per year, allowing the YSC to serve 350 young people annually.
- $900,000 to increase afterschool youth sports programming in partnership with Active City Youth Sports Collaborative. $1,000,000 to support community arts education.
- Community Safety & Wellness: $11.25 million
- $4.5 million to support violence reduction efforts for both youth and adults, including funding to establish a Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Program.
- $3.75 million to expand mental health & wellness programming.
- $1.2 million to hire additional City staff to coordinate internal and external violence prevention/intervention efforts for youth and adults.
- $900,000 to expand Hartford’s Reentry Welcome Center to a new location on Windsor Street.
- $900,000 to develop a public health awareness campaign.
- Business Support & Activation: $15.3 million
- $7 million to support neighborhood job creation and small business investment across Hartford. (Includes $3 million for the $6 million Hart Lift program, see additional funding below.)
- $3 million to provide direct grant funding to small businesses through a revolving loan fund with HEDCO.
- $2 million to support façade improvements at Hartford businesses.
- $1.8 million to fund a new beautification program in our neighborhood commercial corridors.
- $1.5 million to create citywide marketing campaign.
- Housing Non-profit Support: $7 million
- $5 million in grants to Habitat for Humanity, NINA, SINA and the Hartford Land Bank to help those organizations renovate old, blighted buildings or build on vacant lots.
- $2 million to replace the deteriorating MLK Apartments (plus $1.8 million in other funds).
- Arts & Culture: $5.85 million
- $1.5 million to enhance Summer in the City events.
- $1.3 million to create a weekly summer concert series.
- $750,000 to create an all-season events program $900,000 to support citywide live artist performances.
- $750,000 for public art projects and local artist recovery program.
- $600,000 to support art and music in city businesses or vacant spaces.
- Economic & Community Development: $47.3 million
- $10.5 million for construction at the Hartford Public Library Barbour Street and Albany Avenue branch locations.
- $4 million to expand the Parkville Market.
- $5 million to build a new City Health Department as part of a broader retail development at the corner of Albany Avenue and Woodland Street.
- $5.2 million to support revitalization of blighted industrial buildings and vacant lots at the heart of the Parkville Arts & Innovation District.
- $5 million for revitalization of Barbour Street
- $6 million to stabilize and develop downtown properties. (Includes $3 million for the $6 million Hart Lift program, see additional funding above.)
- $4 million for additional neighborhood economic development (including $1.8 million for redevelopment of MLK apartments)
- $4.75 million to provide emergency stabilization support to the hospitality sector.
- $1.35 million to promote tourism in Hartford.
- $1.5 million to support Hartford’s startup innovation ecosystem.
- Critical Infrastructure: $9.5 million
- $9.5 million to improve Hartford’s flood control system.
- Revenue Replacement: $6.6 million
- $1 million to hire additional Housing Inspectors to accelerate the implementation of Hartford’s residential licensing program.
- $2.5 million for additional engineering, project and construction management capacity at the Department of Public Works.
- $3 million to support capital projects, including streetscape work.
Before spending ARP dollars, the City had to develop internal processes consistent with federal regulations to ensure monies are spent consistent with procurement standards. All ARP funds are being expended with careful attention to federal reporting requirements and compliance with guidance from the U.S. Treasury Department.
To simplify and streamline the process of reporting on the expenditure of federal ARP funds, the city will in some cases use non-federal dollars to implement the ARP spending plan detailed above, while utilizing the federal funds to support operating or capital expenditures in an equivalent amount. As a result, the reports that the city will submit will not necessarily mirror the spending plan detailed above. It is important to note, however, that even though federal dollars will not be used to implement each part of the city’s ARP spending plan, the allocation of ARP funds made the implementation of that full recovery plan possible.
Mayor Bronin’s 2022 State of the City Address provided a comprehensive overview of the City’s ARP planning and spending efforts to date. Click here to view the speech. Highlights from recent ARP projects already implemented are described below.
Hartford Unity Grants – Support for Youth Programming
Young people have experienced a great deal of disruption, isolation, and uncertainty amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. To help address this, ARP funds are being invested to give our kids the chance to reconnect with peers and mentors, get the support of caring, dedicated providers, and just have some fun – whether it’s through sports, music, dance, or anything else.
In 2021, $1.5 million in Hartford Unity Grants were distributed to 68 different youth-serving providers, serving more than 11,000 kids. Click here to see a full list of grant recipients.
In February of 2022, a second round of Hartford Unity Grants was announced. Applications were due in early March, and recipients will be announced in the weeks ahead.
Free Youth Sports – Active City Youth Sports Collaborative
The City of Hartford has committed almost $1 million to launch the largest free out-of-school sports program in recent memory, in partnership with Active City’s Youth Sports Collaborative. Through this program, 1,000 young people ages 5-14 have the opportunity to participate in free sports – whether in our parks when the weather is nice, or in our school facilities after school and on weekends during the winter.
Connecting Young People to Tech Jobs
Working with our partners at Girls for Technology and GalaxE.Solutions, the city has funded a partnership to train Hartford residents for guaranteed jobs in IT. To help support this collaboration, the City of Hartford has provided a grant of up to $600,000 using American Rescue Plan funds, and has set aside $2.4 million in additional funding to support similar programs
Activating Vacant Retail Spaces
The City recently launched the Hart Lift program, in partnership with the Hartford Chamber of Commerce. This $6 million initiative funds build-out costs for new businesses opening in vacant spaces. Property owners with vacant storefronts are eligible for grants of $50 per square foot, up to a maximum of $150,000. Grants can be used for interior and exterior buildout costs for new businesses opening in new or existing ground floor retail spaces. The grants must be matched 100% by landlord/tenant investments in the downtown and 50% along neighborhood commercial corridors.
Closing the Connectivity Gap
The City has dedicated $750,000 to bring high-speed fiber to businesses along North Main Street and Windsor Street – closing the connectivity gap so those businesses can grow.
Stakeholders in our community, including small businesses, non-profits serving young people, artists, non-profit housing developers, and landlords will all likely have opportunities to apply to access this funding in order to improve our community. The City of Hartford in some cases will select specific entities to advance particular goals, and in others will issue broader Requests for Proposals (RFPs) that are open to the public.
The City is planning to make further announcements about specific allocations and opportunities for funding in the months ahead.