On April 21, the MMA and the National League of Cities co-hosted a webinar about the range of programs in the American Rescue Plan Act that are not direct aid to state and local governments but could directly or indirectly impact municipalities, including funds for education, transit, housing, small businesses, and public health initiatives.

Presenters from the NLC outlined the range of programs included in the $1.9 trillion relief package. They stressed the importance of using other dedicated federal grant programs to assist local residents, businesses and programs before tapping their dedicated local aid recovery funds. As municipal officials engage with community stakeholders and assess the needs of both government operations and the community at large, this approach will allow for maximizing available federal resources, they advised.

Many of the ARPA programs will be administered through the state, and the MMA is working closely with administration officials to provide information about these programs to municipal leaders as soon as possible.

The American Rescue Plan Act includes $170 billion for education funding, ranging from early childhood programs through higher education. Nearly $122 billion was included for K-12 relief, creating a third round of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) grants.

To address the severe, negative economic impacts from the pandemic, the relief package includes two major funding sources to address housing insecurity. The first is a $21 billion investment in emergency rental relief and utility assistance, and the second is $10 billion for a Homeowners’ Assistance Fund, to assist homeowners with mortgage payments, property taxes and utilities.

Homeless intervention programs were also prioritized, with $5 billion allocated for emergency housing vouchers and $5 billion for HUD Homeless Assistance programs. An additional $400 million will support the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s emergency food and shelter program.

In addition, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program receives $4.5 billion, and the Low-Income Household Water Assistance Program gets $500 million.

Small businesses
A large piece of the ARPA is dedicated to stabilizing small businesses, with $50 billion distributed to the Small Business Administration and $7.2 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program. Economic Injury Disaster Loans were allocated $15 billion to support businesses in low-income communities.

There’s also $28.6 billion in targeted relief for the food service industry, including restaurants, food trucks and caterers, and $1.25 billion to help shuttered arts and cultural venues.

Human services
To stabilize the child care industry, a $23.9 billion one-time grant program will support child care providers. An additional $15 billion will be available in one-time community development block grants to provide child care support to essential workers. Significant investments were also made to programs such as the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, Head Start, Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment state grants, and violence prevention programs.

The Older Americans Act, which provides for in-home services, nutrition programs, transportation, caregiver support, and elder abuse prevention services, receives $1.4 billion.

Food insecurity will be addressed through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, including an extension of benefits through September 2021, and funding for the Women, Infants and Children program.

For veterans negatively impacted by COVID, there are funds for retraining, housing, and health care programs.

Public health
Close to $68 billion was included in the ARPA to address the ongoing public health emergency and response, including funds for COVID testing, contact tracing, and mitigation.

The package includes funding to support vaccine distribution and to strengthen confidence in vaccines, as well as funds for mitigating COVID risks in nursing facilities and for providing emergency medical supplies.

Additional investments for public health include $1.5 billion for Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment block grants and $1.5 billion for Community Mental Health Services block grants. There are also funds for youth suicide prevention, pediatric mental health, and community health centers, and a $7.6 billion investment to expand and sustain the public health workforce.

Within the $360 billion State and Local Recovery fund, $10 billion is earmarked for the states’ Coronavirus Capital Improvement Projects Fund, which is intended to increase broadband access for remote work, education and health monitoring. An additional $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund will support schools and libraries through the E-rate program.

FEMA Public Assistance
FEMA will receive an additional $50 billion in Disaster Relief and Recovery Effort funding, which will help the FEMA Public Assistance program reimburse municipalities at 100% (rather than the typical 75%) for eligible COVID-related expenses retroactive to January 2020. Additionally, $650 million will fund programs to ward off cyberattacks on federal, state and local government infrastructure.

The Federal Transit Administration will administer $30.5 billion in grant programs, primarily for transit agencies to use for operating expenses, including payroll and personal protective equipment expenses. This total includes grants within existing formula grant structures for programs including transit for older adults and adults living with disabilities, as well as support for rural transit agencies.

The NLC speakers during the webinar were Irma Esparza Diggs, senior executive and director of federal advocacy; Mike Wallace, legislative director for Community and Economic Development; and Yucel Ors, legislative director for Public Safety and Crime Prevention.

The American Rescue Plan Act – National League of Cities presentation (782K PDF)

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