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 an initial plan to spend the $112 million allocated to the City of Hartford 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
- Eligible expenditures include funding for organizations and initiatives to help young people in Hartford recover and heal from the isolation and disruption of the pandemic, including youth recreation, employment, enrichment, and other supports.
- Community Safety & Wellness: $11.25 million
- Eligible expenditures include funding for efforts and initiatives designed to improve the physical, mental and emotional health of the Hartford community, as well as to combat the increase in violence that Hartford and communities across the country have experienced during the pandemic.
- Business Support & Activation: $15.3 million
- Eligible expenditures include initiatives to improve the business climate on key commercial corridors, provide direct support for small businesses through loans and grants, and marketing and promotion of the city to assist with the economic recovery.
- Housing Non-profit Support: $7 million
- Eligible expenditures include funding for non-profit entities working to improve the quality of existing housing or expand quality housing opportunities in Hartford’s neighborhoods, with a particular focus on promoting homeownership.
- Arts & Culture: $5.85 million
- Eligible expenditures include funding for summer and year-round arts & culture events and initiatives to contribute to the city’s economic recovery and activate public spaces, as well as the creation of public art, with an emphasis on employing local artists.
- Economic & Community Development: $47.3 million
- Eligible expenditures include key neighborhood investments, to the extent permitted by Treasury Department guidance, as well as public private partnerships, including through the Capital Region Development Authority, designed to restore economic activity and promote economic growth throughout the city.
- Critical Infrastructure: $9.5 million
- Eligible expenditures include investments in water and sewer infrastructure, including the Hartford flood control system.
- Revenue Replacement: $6.6 million
- Eligible expenditures include the provision of city services and/or capital investment to the extent permitted by forthcoming guidance from US Department of the Treasury.
Before spending ARP dollars, the City has to develop an internal process consistent with federal regulations to ensure monies are spent consistent with procurement standards. The City developed those processes over the summer of 2021, while awaiting the final guidance from the Treasury Department, which may require adjustments.
As of September 2021, the City of Hartford has made two specific public announcements regarding ARP funding:
- The City plans to use a small portion of funding to support a broader $10 million commitment to support organizations working with opportunity youth, who are individuals aged 16 – 24 and currently disengaged from school or work.
- The City announced $1.5 million to provide grants to 68 different youth-serving providers, who will provide free sports, performing arts, and cultural programs to more than 11,000 young people in Hartford.
As previously referenced, all of the funding allocated through this process is made possible by the ARP, though in many cases the specific dollars will come from other City sources due to strict eligibility rules for ARP monies.
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 beginning in the Fall of 2021.